President Biden’s first in-person engagement with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is underway in the South West of England. They should pledge to work to open up travel between the United States and the United Kingdom and lift the restrictions that have been put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The two leaders exchanged pleasantries, but otherwise did not speak substantively to reporters ahead of the talks.
Biden said he had visited the UK several times, but this was his first stop as president. Biden, noting that it was a pleasure to meet Johnson’s wife, joked that he and Johnson had “got married.”
Earlier, Biden greeted Johnson along a stretch of ocean to kick off their first face-to-face meeting. The two men’s wives, Jill Biden and Carrie Johnson, also joined in the welcome on a terrace overlooking St. Ives Bay in Cornwall.
” That’s wonderful. I don’t want to go home, ”Biden said, according to reporters at the pool.
The quartet climbed a staircase to get inside, where the ancient Atlantic Charter had been on display for leaders to see.
Leaders plan to sign an updated version of the document that better reflects the world of the 21st century. The new Atlantic Charter will be inspired by the historic declaration made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941 which set American and British objectives for the world after the end of World War II, according to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. .
Upon seeing the charter, Biden and Johnson were both wearing masks. Outside, the chiefs and their wives were maskless.
The new charter will define the priorities, values and challenges which include the defense of democracy, the reaffirmation of the importance of collective security, the construction of a more just and sustainable world trading system, the fight against cyber attacks, the fight against the climate crisis, the protection of biodiversity and the end of the coronavirus pandemic. , according to a source familiar with the matter.
A little more background: The personal dynamics between the leaders of the United States and Great Britain have often played a key role in the “special relationship” between the two transatlantic powers. Roosevelt and Churchill were known to be close, as were Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton, and then, to the surprise of many, Blair and US President George W. Bush during the Iraq War.
Johnson was a favorite of former US President Donald Trump, who praised him for his support for Brexit, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. During the 2020 campaign, Biden called Johnson a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump.
Biden still has deep reservations about Britain leaving the European Union – a move Johnson has defended and advocated as prime minister. Biden is expected to pressure Johnson on the issue during their talks, and in particular how it might affect the Good Friday deal in Northern Ireland.
Hear what the two leaders said when they met:
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