US President Joe Biden hailed the “rock-solid” relationship between the US and the UK as he met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Downing Street.
The US President praised the closeness of ties between the two countries as he and the Prime Minister held talks in the garden of No10.
Biden, whose short layover in London comes ahead of a crunch NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, said the “relationship is rock solid” and he “couldn’t be meeting with a closer friend and a greater ally”.
Sunak said the pair would continue talks on how the UK and US can “strengthen our cooperation, our joint economic security, to the benefit of our citizens”.
Ahead of the NATO gathering, Sunak said the US and UK “stand as two of the firmest allies in that alliance”.
Biden ignored shouted questions from reporters, as the pair reflected on the sunny relationship between the two countries only weeks after Sunak travelled to Washington.
Support for Ukraine’s ambitions for NATO membership and the US decision to provide Kyiv with cluster munitions are signs Westminster and Washington are not entirely on the same page, but both leaders emphasised the closeness of the transatlantic relationship.
Biden’s arrival just after 10.30am on Monday saw a heavy security presence in Whitehall, with the US leader due later at Windsor Castle for tea and climate crisis talks with the King.
The meeting, which lasted around 40 minutes, was also attended by US secretary of state Antony Blinken foreign secretary James Cleverly and several top national security advisers.
Making his first visit to No10 as President, Biden appeared relaxed as he sat with Sunak, who laughed when the President quipped about how frequently the two leaders meet.
The NATO summit is likely to see wrangling between allies over Ukraine’s path to join the alliance. Though all attendees agree Ukraine cannot join during the war, a move which would pull the wider West into direct conflict with Russia, the US is seen as most hesitant.
Biden has described the bid as “premature”, telling CNN: “I don’t think it’s ready for membership in NATO.” Britain, on the other hand, has backed a fast-track approach.
Though not a full-blown state visit, Biden will be treated to a display of pageantry at Windsor Castle. He will receive a royal salute and hear the US anthem courtesy of the Welsh Guards.
They will also meet attendees of a climate finance mobilisation forum, where finance and philanthropic leaders will discuss the support they can offer to poorer nations.
By Dominic McGrath, David Hughes and Harry Stedman, PA