March 01, 2021

Boris Johnson speaks to President Joe Biden in first phone call - with hopes of 'deepening longstanding alliance' with US

January 23, 2021

Boris Johnson has spoken to the newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden in a Saturday evening phone call to Washington DC.

After the call, the prime minister tweeted: "Great to speak to President Joe Biden this evening.

"I look forward to deepening the longstanding alliance between our two countries as we drive a green and sustainable recovery from COVID-19."

Mr Johnson is the first European leader to speak to Mr Biden since his inauguration.

The US president's first calls with world leaders were with Mexico's Manuel Lopez Obrador and Canada's Justin Trudeau.

Giving more information on the call, a Downing Street spokesperson said: "The prime minister spoke to Joe Biden, president of the United States, this evening.

"He congratulated the president on his inauguration and the two leaders looked forward to deepening the close alliance between our nations.

"The prime minister warmly welcomed the president's decision to re-join the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as the World Health Organisation and the COVAX programme to ensure equitable access for vaccines.

"They noted the significant challenges facing the world during the pandemic, but also the unparalleled opportunities to build back better and greener together. 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.

"They also discussed the benefits of a potential free trade deal between our two countries, and the prime minister reiterated his intention to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible.

"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."

However, the US version of the call did not specifically mention trade discussions, saying: "The president conveyed his intention to strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalise transatlantic ties, underscoring the critical role of NATO to our collective defence and shared values.

"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."

The pair are expected to meet for the first time as equals in Cornwall in June, when the G7 meets in St Ives.

Mr Biden triggered a minor controversy following his inauguration on Wednesday, after it was revealed that a bust of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill had been removed from the Oval Office.

Downing Street refused to criticise Joe Biden's spring clean, despite Mr Johnson lambasting President Obama in 2016 for doing the same thing, saying some people viewed it as a "snub to Britain".

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