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President Biden kicks off high-stakes Europe trip in the UK

Ukraine and the environment will take center stage as President Joe Biden meets U.K. politicians and King Charles III.
President Biden kicks off high-stakes Europe trip in the UK
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jul 09, 2023

U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in the U.K. Sunday, ahead of a high-stakes NATO summit in Luthuiania.

On the first leg of the trip, the president is set to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III in what will be their first one-on-one meeting since the king's coronation.

It will be an effort, the White House says, to "further strengthen the close relationship between our nations."

Downing Street says it's also looking forward to welcoming President Biden, with Prime Minister Sunak claiming that Britain is America's most important trade, defense, and diplomatic partner.

One of the key issues Biden will discuss during his travels is how to support Ukraine against Russia, as well as a newly forged U.S.-U.K. partnership called the Atlantic Declaration announced last month.

It involves stronger alignment on trade defense, data protection, and security issues after the U.K.'s much-hoped-for trade agreement with the U.S. barely got off the ground.

SEE MORE: What are cluster munitions, and why are they controversial?

The president will also discuss climate change with Britain's head of state, King Charles, who has a particular interest in environmental matters. They will be joined by philanthropists and investors at Windsor Castle.

President Biden last visited the U.K. in September for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, but his absence at the king's coronation and comments he has made about Ireland's relationship with the U.K. incensed Britain's conservative commentators and many in the political class as well, who believe he is anti-Britain. That sense only strengthened recently with President Biden appearing to block the candidacy of U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace for NATO’s top job, with the current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looking to step down next year.

On Tuesday, President Biden will continue east to Lithuania for this year's NATO Leaders Summit, where Ukraine's candidacy will also be discussed afterwards. He will visit NATO’s newest member, Finland, whose officials are attending for the first time as members of the Security Alliance.

The NATO summit is coming as the White House is providing highly controversial "cluster munitions" to Ukraine, with President Biden calling the move a "difficult decision."

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