President Biden Highlights Strong U.S.-UK Friendship in Visit, Focuses on Climate Change Discussions
U.S. President Joe Biden embarked on a brief visit to Britain, underscoring the enduring friendship between the United States and its close ally. The purpose of the trip was to engage in discussions with King Charles and financial leaders regarding the urgent matter of addressing climate change.
President Biden's visit to Britain marked the start of a three-nation tour that would also include the NATO summit in Lithuania. At the summit, the alliance aimed to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russia's invasion, while refraining from granting full membership to Kyiv.
During a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, President Biden and Prime Minister Sunak focused their discussions on the situation in Ukraine. The meeting, held in the garden of Sunak's Downing Street office, lasted less than an hour.
Expressing his eagerness for the discussions, President Biden remarked, "We have a lot to talk about. Our relationship is rock-solid. I couldn't be meeting with a closer friend and a greater ally."
Ahead of the NATO summit, Sunak and Biden exchanged perspectives on Ukraine's aspirations to join the alliance. President Biden urged caution, considering the ongoing conflict, as NATO's mutual defense pact requires all members to come to the aid of any attacked member.
"We are committed to working with the U.S. and our allies on Ukraine's path to join NATO," stated Sunak's spokesperson, highlighting the importance of waiting for a suitable time while the war continues.
The leaders also discussed the U.S. decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions, which are banned by more than 100 countries, including Britain, due to their potential harm to civilian populations. Cluster munitions often release numerous small bomblets that can cause indiscriminate casualties.
"We remain committed to our obligations under the convention, which includes discouraging the use of cluster munitions. Our stance on this matter remains unchanged. Ultimately, each country must make its own decision," clarified Sunak's spokesperson.
Following the meeting, President Biden, 80, proceeded to Windsor Castle for a meeting with King Charles. The encounter was marked by traditional grandeur and ceremony in the castle quadrangle.
President Biden, who had abstained from attending the king's coronation in May, in line with the customary practice of U.S. presidents, warmly greeted the 74-year-old monarch before engaging in discussions with banking executives, financiers, and philanthropists. The focus of the discussions centered on encouraging private investment in combating climate change.
Both President Biden and King Charles, with over five decades of environmental advocacy, perceive climate change as an existential threat. The meeting took place amid criticism directed at Sunak regarding his commitment to environmental issues.
"We had a diverse group representing trillions of dollars in managed and deployed assets, all deeply committed to addressing the climate crisis," commented John Kerry, the U.S. special climate envoy, who attended the meeting.
The attendees included Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the President-Designate of COP28, as well as CEOs from HSBC, NatWest, Blackrock, Lloyds of London, and Allianz Holdings, collectively underscoring the significance of private sector involvement in tackling climate change.