Rishi Sunak heads to Washington next week for summit talks with President Joe Biden
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak walks during a meeting with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Point Loma naval base in San Diego, California, on March 13, 2023. — AP file
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will take in meetings with US business and congressional leaders, along with a baseball game, when he heads to Washington next week for summit talks with President Joe Biden.
Sustaining both nations’ support for Ukraine in its war against Russian invaders will feature heavily when the leaders meet at the White House on Thursday, according to Sunak’s spokesman.
But Britain sees no traction for securing a post-Brexit trade deal with the Biden administration, and is seeking smaller arrangements with individual US states such as California, the spokesman said.
In a statement on Saturday, Sunak underlined the enduring strength of the transatlantic alliance — while avoiding the phrase “special relationship”, following bust-ups over issues such as Northern Ireland.
“The US is our closest ally. We are one another’s partner of first resort when it comes to everything from keeping our people safe to growing our economies,” he said.
“That’s why it is so important for a UK prime minister to forge a close and candid relationship with the president of the United States — on every global problem, you will see us working side-by-side.”
Nevertheless, Britain after Brexit is finding itself squeezed as the United States and European Union pursue dialogue on future regulation of artificial intelligence, and offer vast new green subsidies.
In Washington during his two-day trip, Sunak is expected to address US chief executives and meet with leading figures in Congress, while also pushing soft diplomacy.
On Wednesday, he will attend the baseball to watch the Washington Nationals play the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second annual “UK-US Friendship Day”, marking 238 years of diplomatic relations.
The game will feature a UK-US military flyover and both nations’ national anthems.
While a trade deal remains problematic, the United States and Britain have forged close alignment against Russia and China.
Biden invited Sunak to the White House when the prime minister went to San Diego in March for the launch of a nuclear submarine deal with Australia.
Sunak has carried on predecessor Boris Johnson’s staunch support for Ukraine 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.