Sunak to meet Biden in Washington next week: Downing Street
LONDON, May 31, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet US President Joe Biden in Washington next week for talks, Downing Street announced on Tuesday.
Biden invited Sunak to the White House when the British leader was in San Diego in March for the launch of a nuclear submarine deal with Australia.
Next week's meeting will build on talks the pair have had about closer cooperation on economic challenges such as supply chain security and net zero transition.
"It will also be an opportunity to discuss issues including sustaining our support for Ukraine," Sunak's official spokesman told reporters in London.
Sunak has carried on Boris Johnson's staunch support for Kyiv since Russia's invasion last year, announcing the supply of long-range missiles.
Biden followed up by supporting the provision of advanced F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine at the recent G7 leaders' summit in Japan.
Overshadowing the talks will be the unresolved issue of a free-trade deal between the two countries, which London sees as a key prize since leaving the EU.
Sunak's spokesman said that was not on the agenda. The UK has already signed trade agreements with North Carolina, South Carolina and Indiana.
It is also seeking closer trading partnerships with US powerhouses California and Texas, and is in discussions with Utah and Oklahoma.
Before the G7, Sunak last met Biden when the US leader visited Northern Ireland for the 25th anniversary of the 1998 peace deal.
Biden has criticised the UK for its stance on post-Brexit trading rules in Northern Ireland, warning it could undermine the hard-fought peace.
Sunak, who hosted Biden's wife Jill at a Downing Street coronation tea-party, is expected to be at July's NATO leaders summit with the US president.