Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak exchange warm words despite Ukraine conflict – POLITICO

LONDON – Joe Biden told Rishi Sunak that he “couldn’t have met a better friend and great ally,” as the two met briefly at this week’s NATO summit in Vilnius.

In a sit-down that lasted just 40 minutes, the US president and British prime minister reaffirmed what Biden called a “strong” relationship between the two countries – despite the global divide that is undermining the “special relationship”.

The decision of the US to have nuclear weapons in Ukraine – a controversial group – opened a debate between NATO countries before the meeting, which starts on Tuesday in Lithuania. Sunak said at the weekend that the UK “restricts” the use of weapons.

The UK and US also appear to be at odds over Ukraine’s bid to join NATO, a key topic at this week’s summit.

In an interview on Sunday, Mr Biden said Ukraine was “not ready” to join NATO and membership could be reconsidered after the war – with the UK wholeheartedly backing Kyiv’s bid to join the alliance.

The leaders remained in front of the cameras as they met in Downing Street.

“We are like two of the strongest allies in the alliance and I know we want to do everything we can to strengthen Euro-Atlantic security,” Sunak told the US president.

The meeting is the sixth time Sunak and Biden have met since Sunak became prime minister last year.

At their last meeting, in June, Biden answered Sunak as “Mr President” – before quickly correcting himself.

After leaving Downing Street, the US President will travel to Windsor Castle where he will meet King Charles III for tea. The two are expected to discuss the climate crisis, an issue close to the heart of the British monarch.

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