UK politics & policy updates
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Boris Johnson will meet Joe Biden in the White House this week as he seeks to rejuvenate transatlantic relations following the west’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Britain been openly critical of the president’s decision to pull US troops out of Afghanistan by the end of August. The two world leaders are expected to discuss the latest situation and efforts to prevent a humanitarian crisis.
One British diplomatic said they didn’t expect the meeting to be “too difficult”. They added: “Boris Johnson is not going to lecture him about Afghanistan as there are too many other important issues to discuss.”.
Johnson is buoyed ahead of the meeting with Biden after London announced a trilateral security partnership with Washington and Canberra last week. The Aukus agreement underlines an increasing hawkish stance towards Beijing and has been hailed in London as a diplomatic win for the UK.
Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the US and Americas programme at Chatham House, said: “Afghanistan was obviously a little humiliating for the UK prime minister but it’s pretty clear there is no going back . . . Frankly, Biden doesn’t have any time for spilled milk and he is going to be looking for who is on board his ship.
“There is no great love lost between Johnson and Biden, but at the same time there is clearly a sense of the significance of the partnership.
“It will be a very forward looking meeting. [A] certain amount of planning and celebrating Aukus, which is a boom to Britain. Hopefully what they can do is pick up the pieces and try to build on the momentum of the G7.”
The UK prime minister will make a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York this week and host a meeting of world leaders — including from those countries most vulnerable to climate change, ahead of COP26, scheduled to take place in Glasgow in early November.
COP26, postponed from last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, is viewed by Johnson as a chance to “lead the drive towards global net zero” — a task made considerably easier by the arrival of a new US president who wants to tackle climate change. The UK is set to host 100 world leaders at the event.
The aim of the meeting is to iron out parameters for the Paris climate accord, a 2015 pact that seeks to limit global warming to well below 2C.
Johnson said ahead of the trip: “World leaders have a small window of time left to deliver on their climate commitments ahead of COP26. My message to those I meet this week will be clear: future generations will judge us based on what we achieve in the coming months.
“This week, as world leaders arrive in New York for the biggest diplomatic event of the year, I will be pushing them to take concrete action on coal, climate, cars and trees so we can make a success of COP26 and keep our climate goals within reach.
“We need to continue to make a case for a sustainable recovery from coronavirus rooted in green growth. And we have a responsibility to ensure the benefits of that growth extend to all, no matter where they are born.”