US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Britain on Monday for a brief visit to meet King Charles III and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before heading to a NATO conference in Lithuania.
The White House stated ahead of the visit that Biden will strive to “further strengthen the close relationship” with Britain.
The king will host Biden at Windsor Castle, a royal home west of London, where they will discuss climate issues, which have long been a source of concern for Charles.
It will be their first meeting since the monarch’s coronation in early May.
The president did not attend, sending First Lady Jill Biden instead, but the Bidens were at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September.
Earlier in the day, Biden will meet Sunak for their fifth meeting in recent months.
Downing Street has said the president’s visit “reflects the strong relationship” between the two countries.
Sunak travelled to the United States last month for a two-day visit where the leaders discussed Ukraine, AI regulation and post-Brexit ties.
They also agreed to a new economic partnership, the “Atlantic Declaration”.
Biden said the United States has “no closer ally” than Britain.
But Sunak came away empty-handed on the UK’s ambitions for a post-Brexit free-trade agreement with Washington.
The two countries are key allies of Ukraine and Russia’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbour is likely to top the agenda on Monday, after Biden pledged to supply Kyiv with controversial cluster munitions.
‘Compare Notes’ On Ukraine
The decision alarmed rights advocates because of the danger unexploded bomblets represent to civilians, and it generated anxiety among US allies.
Biden said the decision to deliver the weapons was “very difficult,” but Ukrainian forces fighting an invading Russian army were “running out of ammunition.”
More than 120 countries have signed an accord prohibiting the production, storage, sale, and use of cluster munitions, and Sunak emphasized Britain’s participation on Saturday.
Sunak, on the other hand, emphasized that Britain, which has provided Kyiv with heavy combat tanks and long-range armaments, will continue to support Ukraine.
The visit will allow Biden and Sunak to “compare notes” on Ukraine ahead of a meeting with other NATO leaders in Lithuania. In a briefing on Friday, Amanda Sloat, National Security Council senior director for Europe, stated.
NATO allies will convene in the Lithuanian city of Vilnius on Tuesday and Wednesday for a meeting in which Ukraine hopes to receive a strong signal that it will one day join the US-led alliance.
Biden will go from Lithuania to Finland, NATO’s newest member, for a US-Nordic Leaders Summit.
Northern Ireland may also be on the agenda for Sunak and Biden as it is “certainly an issue that the president regularly talks about with his British counterpart”, Sloat said.
Biden paid a quick visit to Northern Ireland in April to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which ended three decades of conflict in the UK province through US mediation.
Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has criticized the United Kingdom for its stance on post-Brexit economic restrictions in Northern Ireland, warning that it could jeopardize the hard-won peace.