US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the dangers of climate change on Tuesday and joked about the joys of train travel at an Oval Office meeting to highlight the US-UK alliance.
Johnson had once feared that his warm relationship with former President Donald Trump could hurt relations under Biden, but the two seemed to get along well.
Biden told Johnson he looks forward to being in the UK for a UN conference on global warming later this year.
“We need you there,” Johnson told Biden.
“Oh, we’re going to be there,” replied the President. “With bells, as they say.”
Starting at the end of October, the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow is seen as a critical time for the world to stop global warming. Under Biden, the United States renewed its commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and pledged to fund climate change projects.
“It’s fantastic to see the United States really step up and show a lead – a real, real lead,” Johnson said.
Trump, a Republican, had withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Biden brought the country back into the international treaty after taking office in January.
The president said the two leaders would discuss the trade at their meeting. Britain is eager to secure a US-UK trade deal.
“We’re going to talk a bit about trade today, and we’ll have to fix it,” Biden said.
Johnson took the Amtrak train from the United Nations General Assembly in New York to Washington for the White House meeting.
“They love you,” Johnson told Biden, apparently referring to US railroad personnel. “Well, they should,” replied Biden, a regular commuter for over 30 years, laughing.
Johnson’s team see the visit as a triumph, demonstrating that Britain can thrive on the world stage following its divorce last year from the European Union.
The meeting comes amid a rift between the United States and rival EU France, in which Britain has played a crucial role. A submarine deal that the United States and Britain recently announced with Australia came at France’s expense, prompting France to withdraw its ambassadors to the United States and Australia and to call off a defense meeting with Britain.
An easy relationship between the two men was not guaranteed. Biden, then Barack Obama’s vice-president, was angered in 2016 by Johnson’s comments suggesting that Obama opposed Britain’s exit from the EU because he was “partly Kenyan.”
But the leaders met amicably in June at a G7 meeting and appeared to share a comfortable relationship in the Oval Office on Tuesday, calling each other by first name.
Still, the White House refused to hold an official press conference with Johnson, and the British leader caught US officials off guard by answering questions himself from reporters in the Oval Office.
Johnson called in two reporters from the British press while Biden did not call any on the American side. The press was subsequently kicked out amid loud shouts from White House press officers.
A post-Brexit trade deal is important for Britain, and Johnson noted that the US government lifted the UK beef import ban imposed after an outbreak of mad cow disease.
“And we’re also going to be working on the lamb,” Biden said.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)