Special relationship forms part of discussion in call between Biden and Johnson

President Joe Biden speaks into a microphone
President Joe Biden speaks into a microphone (AP)
2:22am, Sun 24 Jan 2021
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President Joe Biden spoke of the desire to “strengthen the special relationship” between the US and UK in his first call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The pair spoke on Saturday evening, with Mr Johnson congratulating Mr Biden on his inauguration, and warmly welcomed his decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and the World Health Organisation – both abandoned by Donald Trump.

A Downing Street spokesman added the potential benefits of a post-Brexit free trade deal were also discussed in the call.

He added: “The Prime Minister praised President Biden’s early action on tackling climate change and commitment to reach net zero by 2050.

“Building on the UK and US’ long history of cooperation in security and defence, the leaders re-committed to the NATO alliance and our shared values in promoting human rights and protecting democracy.

“The leaders looked forward to meeting in person as soon as the circumstances allow, and to working together through the G7, G20 and Cop26 this year.”

Following the call, Mr Johnson tweeted: “Great to speak to President Joe Biden this evening.

“I look forward to deepening the long-standing alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from Covid19.”

A statement from the White House made no mention of discussion on trade.

It said: “The President conveyed his intention to strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalize transatlantic ties, underscoring the critical role of Nato to our collective defence and shared values.

The leaders also discussed the need for coordination on shared foreign policy priorities, including China, Iran, and Russia

“President Biden also noted the importance of cooperation, including through multilateral organisations, on shared challenges such as combatting climate change, containing Covid-19, and ensuring global health security.

“He noted his readiness to work closely with Prime Minister Johnson as the United Kingdom hosts the G-7 and United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this year. The leaders also discussed the need for coordination on shared foreign policy priorities, including China, Iran, and Russia.”

It is reported that Mr Johnson is the first European leader to have spoken to the new president, after he had calls on Friday with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

US Election 2020 (PA Wire)

There will be some relief in Downing Street at the early call amid concerns about the way Mr Johnson’s perceived closeness to Mr Trump would be seen by the new administration.

Following Mr Biden’s inauguration this week, No 10 sought to play down Mr Biden’s decision to remove a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office – even though Mr Johnson had criticised Mr Obama when he did the same thing.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Oval Office is the president’s private office and it’s up to the president to decorate it as he wishes.

“We’re in no doubt of the importance that President Biden places on the UK and US relationship and the Prime Minister looks forward to having a close relationship with him.”

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