British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden are expected to reaffirm relations between their two countries on the eve of the G7 summit, although Washington has warned of easing Brexit tensions.
The pair will agree on an “Atlantic Charter” on Thursday in Cornwall, south-west England, for the first face-to-face talks since Biden took office in January.
The agreement will be a model for the joint statement made in 1941 by then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill and then-President Franklin D Roosevelt, which set out Washington and London’s vision for a new world order after World War II.
Johnson and Biden have also announced the creation of a working group to resume travel to the UK and US as the coronavirus pandemic is disrupted, and will discuss how to vaccinate the world’s poorest nations.
But the talks can be blurred when Biden, as expected, warns Johnson (one of the leaders of the 2016 Brexit campaign) about the friction caused by the UK’s exit from the European Union in Northern Ireland.
The U.S. leader is concerned that Johnson’s heated disagreements with the bloc over the Northern Ireland protocol to the Brexit deal could weaken the 1998 U.S.-negotiated peace deal – the Good Friday Agreement – that ended 30 years of bloodshed in the region.
“President Biden has clearly shown his strong belief in the Good Friday Agreement as the basis for peaceful coexistence in Northern Ireland,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on the Air Force One ship.
“Steps that jeopardize or weaken that would not be welcomed by the United States.”
Biden seeks to “link allies closely.”
Biden’s visit to the UK is his first trip abroad since he became president.
After meeting Johnson, he will attend a G7 summit in Cornwall from Friday to Sunday, featuring the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada.
Biden will then attend a NATO summit on Monday, a US-EU summit on Tuesday and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva the next day.
He will try to use the trip to burn his multi-faceted credentials after the turmoil of Donald Trump’s presidency, which shocked many U.S. allies in Europe and Asia and left some strangers.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reportedly from Cornwall, said Biden’s idea was to “tie his allies closely” after Trump took office.
“We’ll see that first with the G7 partners, then with the NATO alliance, then Trump took the bruises … then with the EU,” Bays said.
Biden wants to “bring all these allies together on the same page with different issues around the world,” including efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and how to deal with power rivals like China and Russia, he added.
Since the G7 met two years ago, COVID-19 has killed more than 3.7 million people worldwide and reduced economies plagued by severe blockades and mass layoffs.
As criticism of the origin of the coronavirus rises in January and February, the US president will encourage G7 leaders to call for a second WHO probe, Bloomberg said on Thursday, citing a leaked draft statement.
A few hours after the report was made, EU leaders themselves requested a new study on the origin of COVID-19, which was first identified in central China in late 2019.
“Researchers need full access to find the true source of this pandemic,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels.
Charles Michel, the head of the European Council, called for von der Leyen.
“The world has a right to learn lessons to know exactly what happened,” he said.
EU diplomats have said it is symbolic in most of the EU’s support for a new investigation because the bloc would not be directly involved.
Last month, the U.S. mission to the United Nations in Geneva said the original WHO report was “insufficient and conclusive,” and called for a second investigation, including in China.
Biden said in May that U.S. intelligence agencies were making theories about opponents, including the possibility of a laboratory accident in China.
According to the WHO report, the virus was probably transmitted by bats to humans through another animal and “was considered a very unlikely way to enter through a laboratory accident.”