Washington: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Thursday opened talks with US President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss Ukraine war and future NATO leadership – as well as seizing the opportunity to boost the British brand post-Brexit.
While the main thrust of the Oval Office meeting is expected to be on Ukraine and the Western response at a crucial juncture in the war, Sunak also highlights the UK’s ambitions to play a major role in artificial intelligence.
“We will put our values ​​front and center to present them to the British and American people,” Sunak said at the outset of his talks with Biden.
When asked if the “special” bilateral relationship was in good shape, Biden said it was “in really good shape.”
During their meeting, Sunak will seek to strengthen his personal relationship with Biden – including by reminding the US president of his distant British roots.
While Biden is deeply proud of his Irish-American heritage, Biden acknowledges ancestors from England, including 19th-century sailor Christopher Biden, who was his great-grandfather.
Sunak’s spokesman said the prime minister would present a copy of Christopher Biden’s book Naval Discipline: Dependency Opposites Mutiny – which the president, during his visit to Ireland in April, described as the Royal Navy’s counterinsurgency guide.
In Ukraine, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom are close to providing advanced fighter jets to aid Kiev in a confrontation Russian invasion.
While both governments remain cautious about assigning blame for the catastrophic destruction of a Ukrainian dam this week, they are also clear that Moscow’s aggression must be thwarted.
Ahead of his summit with Biden, Sunak said Britain was coming to the aid of the flood victims caused by the dam explosion.
“I want people to know that we are doing our part to support the Ukrainians in their response,” he told BBC radio in Washington.
“We have provided resources to the United Nations and the Red Cross in advance, foreseeing such incidents, and these resources are now being transferred to the area to help support the affected families,” Sunak said.
“This is a horrific act and hundreds of thousands of people are affected,” he said, while dismissing the Kremlin’s threats to Britain over its military support to Ukraine.
Sunak also claimed Biden’s support for his plans for the UK to host the world’s first summit on artificial intelligence later this year.
“I am delighted that the United States is supporting our summit,” he said, noting that Britain is well placed to play a leadership role in ensuring that there are appropriate “blocks” to safely exploit AI.
Sunak wants Britain to host a future global regulator of artificial intelligence, after doomsday warnings of the technology’s potential to wipe out humanity.
However, there are headwinds to Sunak’s ambitions, as the US and EU have already engaged in their own dialogue over a code of conduct for AI.
But at a time when hope is now lost on a post-Brexit trade deal, Sunak took to the summit arguing that the Ukraine war proves the need for transatlantic economic alignment.
“Just as interoperability between our militaries has given us a battlefield advantage over our adversaries, greater economic interoperability will give us a decisive advantage in the decades to come,” he said.
Sunak is pushing for US relief for UK automakers, by increasing access to critical minerals used in batteries, after Biden’s inflation-reduction bill provided huge subsidies for companies doing business in the US.
Sunak has mentioned British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace as a candidate to lead NATO ahead of the Western military alliance’s summit next month in Lithuania, where the prime ministers of Denmark and Estonia are seen as rivals.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s term ends in October.
For now, Biden has given no indication of who he supports — and his vote will be crucial in a coalition where the United States is by far the biggest player.
On Wednesday night, Sunak hit a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks, politely declining the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
After a military band played the UK-US anthems, Sunak told Nats manager Dave Martinez: “They should put a (cricket) bat in my hand.
“This is more to me.”


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