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Power player or poodle? UK-U.S. relations in flux as BoJo meets Joe By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden walks to the podium before his remarks on a National Security Initiative virtually with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, inside the East Room at the White House in Wash

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Elizabeth Piper

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – British prime minister Boris Johnson once worried that his friendliness with Donald Trump would leave him out in the cold when Democrat Joe Biden took over the White House.

He can look forward to a warm reception in Washington Tuesday as transatlantic leaders gather for extensive talks that will focus on economic regulation, security, and climate in preparation to Britain’s major environmental conference at October.

Johnson’s team considers it a victory: confirmation that “global Britain”, despite its separation from the European Union last year, can flourish on the international stage. This comes amid an American rift with EU competitor France in which Britain was a key player.

A submarine deal the United States and Britain recently announced with Australia came at France’s expense, sparking France to withdraw its ambassadors to the United States and Australia and cancel a defense meeting with Britain.

Some believe that France still views Britain as the second partner in their long-standing “special relationship” years after Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, was mocked for his support of George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion.

Peter Ricketts, who is a member of The House of Lords and a former British ambassador in France, said that the French view this as very strategically. This was a result of America, particularly its humiliation at Afghanistan, and a move by America towards China.

Biden believes that the alliance is focused upon a pragmatic need for all parties to work together, regardless of differences in style and approach. Biden was angered at the time by Johnson’s comments characterizing his former boss Barack Obama as being opposed to Britain exit from the European Union because he was “part Kenyan.”

Biden and Johnson met at G7 in June. Johnson had just married his third wife, nearly three decades younger, when he said that he thought they were “way above their station.”

Johnson said, “I am not going to disagree on that, or any other, I think either, either.”

Both countries have the right to pursue their interests. Each country wants to get past disagreements about the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

They want to strengthen the AUKUS alliance with Australia, which is primarily designed to combat China’s influence in Asia, even though France has concerns. They will also look into ways they can cooperate in the COVID response to climate change.

Johnson intends to push Biden to raise his pledge to pay $100 billion annually by rich nations to reduce global warming and carbon emissions.

Johnson stated that it would make a significant difference and send out a powerful message to the rest of the world.

A bilateral U.S.-British trade deal, long held out by Johnson and his allies as a logical post-Brexit step, will likely have to wait though. Biden does not place a high priority on brokering trade agreements.

Johnson said to reporters that Joe had a lot to fry when he traveled to the United States with Johnson.