London (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Saturday he wanted to foster a “close and candid relationship” with U.S. President Joe Biden during a visit to Washington next week that comes after some signs of strains in bilateral ties.
Sunak is due to be in the U.S. capital on Wednesday and Thursday for talks with politicians in Congress and business leaders as well as with the president.
“The U.S. is our closest ally. We are one another’s partner of first resort when it comes to everything from keeping our people safe to growing our economies,” Sunak said in a statement ahead of his first official visit to Washington as prime minister.
“That’s why it is so important for a UK Prime Minister to forge a close and candid relationship with the President of the United States – on every global problem, you will see us working side-by-side.”
Sunak and Biden are expected to discuss improving economic ties and sustaining military support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. But there will be no talks about a formal free trade deal, Sunak’s spokesperson said earlier this week.
London wants to forge better relations with the U.S. after they were strained by Britain’s departure from the European Union in 2020.
In April, a White House official denied Biden was “anti-British” after he spent just half a day in the British province of Northern Ireland before travelling to the Irish Republic for two-and-a-half days of meetings.
Downing Street said in Saturday’s statement that Sunak’s meeting with Biden would be his fourth in as many months, representing more “sustained contact” with a U.S. president than any other prime minister has had in recent years.