UK-US relations 'strong' says PM as he meets Biden

By Alex KleidermanBBC News

Getty Images Sir Keir Starmer shares a handshake with Joe Biden at the Oval Office in the White House on 10 July 2024Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer says his first face-to-face talks with US President Joe Biden were an opportunity to “recommit” to Nato and the “special relationship” between the UK and US.

Facing reporters in the White House, Sir Keir told the president: “The special relationship is so important. It’s forged in difficult circumstances, endured for so long, and stronger now than ever.”

The new prime minister met President Biden for the first time at Nato’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington just hours before their private talks in the Oval Office.

President Biden called the US and UK the “best of allies”, saying the UK was “the transatlantic knot” that ties Nato together with its European members.

It comes as Sir Keir is looking to form a new security pact with EU nations to strengthen co-operation on defence.

Starmer meets Biden: Special relationship stronger than ever

The two leaders’ meeting came as Nato agreed further support for Ukraine at the Washington summit.

Sir Keir also confirmed that the UK’s £3bn a year military aid for Kyiv would continue.

President Biden said “things are moving in the right direction, I’m feeling really optimistic”.

The prime minister congratulated President Biden on hosting the summit, adding it was “a bigger Nato, a stronger Nato and a Nato with the resolve that we need”.

The Labour leader – on his first overseas visit as prime minister – is a season ticket holder at Arsenal Football Club and gave President Biden a personalised team shirt as a present.

It has President Biden’s surname on the back and the number 46 – a reference to him being the 46th US president.

Sir Keir also gave him a copy of the Atlantic Charter – the 1941 US-UK declaration which paved the way for the formation of the military alliance – featuring amendments from the then Labour leader Clement Attlee.

Foreign Secretary David Lammy, who accompanied Sir Keir on the trip, met his US counterpart Antony Blinken.

The State Department said the pair “re-affirmed the importance of ensuring Ukraine has the economic, security, and humanitarian assistance it needs to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

They “discussed the need to reach a ceasefire in Gaza that secures the release of hostages and lays the groundwork for durable peace”.

New UK Defence Secretary John Healey met his US counterpart Lloyd Austin.

Euro 2024 talk

There was no mention of Sir Keir’s Arsenal shirt gift when the two leaders spoke to reporters before their White House meeting – but there was a little time for both men to hail England’s 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in the semi-finals of Euro 2024.

Substitute Ollie Watkins’s last-minute winning goal in the match was scored just before Sir Keir arrived for the talks.

Asked by reporters about the result, President Biden said, “I heard”.

“Good news indeed,” he added, joking that “it’s all because of the prime minister”.

And the prime minister, when asked by the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason, “is football coming home?”, replied: “It looks like it.”

Sir Keir has confirmed he will be attending the final against Spain in Berlin on Sunday.

At one point during the Nato summit, a video clip posted on X by Sir Keir showed him stopping between meetings to watch England captain Harry Kane take a penalty.


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