President Biden’s first in-person engagement with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is underway now in southwest England. They are expected to commit to working to open up travel between the US and the UK and lifting restrictions that were 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’d been to the United Kingdom many times, but it was his first stop as President. Biden, noting it was a pleasure to meet Johnson’s wife, quipped that both he and Johnson had “married up.”
Earlier, Biden greeted Johnson along a stretch of ocean to launch their first face-to-face meeting. The two men’s wives, Jill Biden and Carrie Johnson, also joined the greeting on a deck overlooking St. Ives Bay in Cornwall.
“It gorgeous. I don’t want to go home,” Biden said, according to pool reporters.
The foursome climbed a set of stairs to go inside, where the old Atlantic Charter had been put on display for the leaders to view.
The leaders are planning to sign an updated version of the document that better reflects the 21st-century world. The new Atlantic Charter will be modeled on the historic declaration made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941 that set out American and British goals for the world after the end of World War II, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
As they viewed the charter, Biden and Johnson were both wearing masks. Outside, the leaders and their wives were mask-less.
The new charter will outline priorities, values and challenges that include defending democracy, reaffirming the importance of collective security, building a more fair and sustainable global trading system, combating cyberattacks, addressing the climate crisis, protecting biodiversity and bringing an end to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Some more background: Personal dynamics between the leaders of the United States and Britain have often played a key role in the “special relationship” between the two trans-Atlantic powers. Roosevelt and Churchill were famously 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 referred to Johnson as a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump.
Biden still holds deep reservations about Britain’s exit from the European Union — a move Johnson championed and has advocated for as prime minister. Biden is expected to press Johnson on the issue during their talks, and specifically on how it might affect the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.
President Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will soon hold their first face-to-face bilateral meeting in Carbis Bay in Cornwall.
In style and in substance, the leaders are two very different men leading two countries whose relationship makes up one of the most important global alliances.
Biden rode into the White House last year on a record that spanned nearly 50 years in public service. And while the President ran as an antidote to then-President Donald Trump, Johnson has often been compared to the 45th President for his populist message and often brash comments.
The similarities between Trump and Johnson aren’t lost on Biden, who on the 2020 campaign trail once called Johnson a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump.
Given the tight ties between the US and UK, observers expect the public portions of the meeting to be cordial and warm. But both men enter this weekend’s diplomatic gathering under pressure to define their respective roles in the world and amongst other global powers.
Biden and Johnson’s relationship will no doubt be one to watch throughout Biden’s swing through Europe as he looks to reassure US allies that America will once again be conventional and reliable on the world stage.
The two diverge on policy on several fronts, including Biden’s opposition to Brexit and Northern Ireland’s role as part of Britain’s exit from the European Union. The Northern Ireland Protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that creates a de facto trade border in the Irish Sea – has contributed to rising tensions in the region this year. Biden has long been skeptical of Brexit, and holds deep affection for Ireland, his ancestral homeland. In his first speech in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, he quoted a line from Yeats.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday that Biden is expected to bring up Northern Ireland during his meeting with Johnson, but told reporters his comments would be reserved to making “statements of principle.”
Read more about the leaders’ relationship here.
Joe Biden’s first foreign trip as President comes at a unique moment.
No US President has ever left the nation’s shores with democratic values under attack as broadly and systemically at home as they are abroad. This extraordinary reality will complicate his mission to purge the trauma of the Donald Trump era and convince both foes and friends that the US is reclaiming its global leadership role for good.
Biden meets British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday before the G7 summit, makes a hop to NATO in Brussels, then has a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva that will evoke the most tense days of the Cold War.
“We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges,” Biden told US troops at an air base in eastern England on Wednesday.
For Biden, democracy is not just some abstract concept from civics class that Americans experience only when they enter the voting booth every few years.
It is a system, a way of life and a set of rules and norms that made the United States the strongest and richest country in history. The free, prosperous nations the US rebuilt and protected after World War II faced down communist tyranny in the form of the Soviet Union and underwrote 70 years of peace. This web of open, like-minded countries is also the key to America’s global power. If democracy ebbs abroad, so does US influence.
Read the full story here.
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said President Biden will be “direct” in his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He has every intention of having this meeting with President Putin, and what he would say is that he sits down with President Putin not in spite of our differences but because of our differences,” Bedingfield said on CNN’s “New Day,” after a Moscow court designated jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s political movement as an extremist network.
“He’s known President Putin for a long time. He’s met with him face-to-face before. So this conversation with President Putin is going to be direct, it’s going to be candid,” she said.
Bedingfield said Biden will raise concerns about human rights violations, the Ukrainian border and cyberattacks during the leaders’ meeting on June 16 in Geneva.
“What he’s looking to do is to create a stable, predictable relationship with Russia,” she added.
President Biden’s expected announcement Thursday evening that the United States plans to donate 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses globally will be a part of his efforts to reassert US leadership on the world stage, officials said.
Biden is set to deliver remarks at 1:15 pm ET from St. Ives, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Officials touted the move Thursday, suggesting it is part of a broader effort for the world’s democracies to lead the way in pandemic recovery.
“This will be clearly the largest purchase and donation of Covid-19 vaccines by a single country, by far, and it’s an unprecedented response,” a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call Thursday.
“We want to do everything we can to prevent more tragic loss across the globe,” the official said, adding that it is “in our national interest to end this pandemic everywhere.”
“Covid-19 knows no borders, and as long as this virus is in our world, Americans are at risk,” the official said, stressing how the virus also “threatens economic opportunity.”
But the move is also intended to encourage other US allies to step up.
“We’re also using this announcement today to leverage and mobilize larger commitments from the world’s democracies, from the G7 and partner countries,” a separate senior official said, previewing a “G7 Covid-related multilateral announcement.”
At the G7 summit this weekend, the official said, leaders will announce a “collective effort by the world’s democracies to beat Covid-19 for once and for all.”
The donation comes as Biden has repeatedly said that the world is at an inflection point for whether democracy can prevail over autocracy.
“This is the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, and it is tangible proof that it is going to be the world’s democracies who ultimately deliver when it comes to beating the Covid-19 pandemic,” the official said.
Here are key things to know about the vaccine donation:
- Officials said the Pfizer doses will begin to ship in August and 200 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year.
- The remaining 300 million doses will be delivered in the first half of 2022.
- They will be manufactured in the US, the officials said, “employing thousands of workers” in states like Michigan, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
- The cost will be around $1.5 billion, which will come from previously-allocated funds in the American Rescue Plan relief package passed earlier this year.
- There will be no conditions for the nations that receive the doses.
“The United States is not seeking favors in exchange for these doses, we’re not making demands in order for countries to get these doses, we are not imposing conditions, political, economic or otherwise. We are going to be guided by the science and public health experts in allocating them to the places where they can make the most difference,” the second senior official said.
President Biden isn’t planning to adopt a confrontational tone with Boris Johnson on the Northern Ireland issue during their meeting later Thursday, a senior administration official said.
But he will still raise the matter as a topic of deep personal interest that he wants to see resolved.
“The United States is not in those negotiations and not seeking to be in those negotiations,” the official said.
“It will not be confrontational or adversarial,” the official said of Biden’s plans to raise the matter in his talks with Johnson. “He didn’t come here to give a lecture. He came merely to communicate what he believes, very, very deeply about peace in Northern Ireland.”
The new Atlantic Charter that President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will sign on Thursday is meant to reflect the shifting threats facing the world 80 years after the original document was signed following World War II.
“It’s been eighty years since the last one, it’s about time that it gets refreshed,” a senior administration official said ahead of the signing, which is expected ahead of Biden’s one-on-one talks with Johnson in Cornwall.
“The original really outlined what the post-war world order could and should look like, this new charter will make clear what the coming decades of the 21st century can and should look like,” the official said.
The new Atlantic Charter is meant to build upon the historic declaration made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941 that set out American and British goals for the world after the end of World War II.
Both leaders identify with their predecessors who signed the original document. Biden has consumed biographies of FDR as president and studied intently his “New Deal” efforts during the Great Depression.
Still, officials said the document was not designed to presage a new Cold War, as the original Atlantic Charter ended up doing.
“It is a profound statement of purpose of democracy, at a moment when, as the President has said, democracies are very much in competition with autocracy,” the official said. “There’s a renewal aspect to the commitment to these democratic principles in the face of genuine challenges and authoritarian competition, and the need to refresh and update the statement of principles so it actually reflects the world we’re dealing with today and not simply harkening back to the world of the Cold War.”
President Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are expected to commit on Thursday to working to open up travel between the US and the UK and lifting restrictions that were put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Biden and Johnson are expected to announce a new travel task force that will explore options and make recommendations on how to safely resume international travel. The President is set to meet with Johnson on Thursday during his first foreign trip as President ahead of the Group of Seven summit being held in southwestern England.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday the US has established two working groups of public health experts — one with the United Kingdom and one with the European Union.
“The point of these working groups is to share data and set out both milestones and criteria to enable a reopening of travel between our two countries as swiftly as possible, consistent with public health guidance,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One.
Biden and Johnson are also expected on Thursday to agree to a new Atlantic Charter modeled on the historic declaration made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941 that set out American and British goals for the world after the end of World War II, according to Sullivan.
“There will be a refresher of the Atlantic Charter, which is now 80 years old, so there will be an updated statement of principles between the US and UK as free societies and free peoples speaking out about what we believe in the 21st century,” Sullivan told reporters.
The charter will outline priorities, values and challenges that include defending democracy, reaffirming the importance of collective security, building a more fair and sustainable global trading system, combating cyberattacks, addressing the climate crisis, protecting biodiversity and bringing an end to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the source.
Biden and Johnson are also expected to agree to pursue a landmark bilateral technology agreement that will be signed next year, according to the source. The agreement will focus on reducing barriers British tech firms face when trying to work with US counterparts.
Read more about their meeting here.
President Biden told a hangar of US troops on Wednesday he was in Europe to defend the very concept of democracy, setting high stakes for his first trip abroad as President and warning his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that he planned to raise touchy issues during their summit next week.
“I’m headed to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial and then to meet with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know,” Biden said at RAF Mildenhall, home to an American refueling wing and the site of Biden’s first presidential speech on foreign soil.
Biden, who seemed to grow emotional as he recalled his late son Beau’s service as an Army major, spoke forcefully about restoring American alliances in Europe, describing them as a cornerstone of global security.
And he said he wouldn’t hold back in his meeting with Putin.
“We’re not seeking conflict with Russia. We want a stable predictable relationship,” he said. “I’ve been clear, the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities. We’ve already demonstrated that. I’m going to communicate that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracies in the United States and Europe and elsewhere.”
Before he meets Putin in Geneva next week, Biden is holding consultations with European leaders at the G7 in Cornwall and the NATO summit in Brussels.
“Our unrivaled network of alliances and partnerships that are the key to American advantage in the world and always have been,” Biden said. “They’ve made the world safer for all of us and they are how we are going to meet the challenges of today, which are changing rapidly. We’re going to meet it though from a position of strength.”
He laid out a lofty goal for his first trip abroad, suggesting no less than democracy itself was at stake as he works to convince world leaders that, after four years of President Trump, the US commitment to transatlantic ties is back for good.
“I believe we’re in at an inflection point in world history, the moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure, but they will excel as we rise to seize the enormous opportunities of the new age,” Biden said. “We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow nations believe. We have to expose as false the narrative that the decrees of dictators can match the speed and scale of the 21st challenges.”
Biden, as he started his speech by thanking the assembled US service-members, harkened back to his son Beau, who was a major in the Delaware National Guard.
“I only wish my major was here to thank you as well,” he said.
Read more here.