President and PM pledge to ‘defeat spread of coronavirus’

The two leaders agreed to work to reopen travel and 'continue to share information' that will help defeat the virus.

President and PM pledge to ‘defeat spread of coronavirus’ Scottish Conservatives

Prime Minister and Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden say they will “defeat the spread of coronavirus in our countries and internationally”.

At their meeting in Cornwall on Thursday the two leaders agreed to work to reopen travel and “continue to share information” that will help in their mission.

On the thorny issue of Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements, they both reaffirmed their commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and to “protecting the gains of the peace process.”

Boris Johnson sought to play down differences with Joe Biden, claiming the new US President was a “breath of fresh air” and insisting there was “absolutely common ground” over Northern Ireland.

The US President’s concerns over the way the UK Government is treating the Protocol with the European Union which governs post-Brexit arrangements on the island of Ireland threatened to overshadow the first meeting between the two.

The spokesman added: “The leaders agreed that both the EU and the UK had a responsibility to work together and to find pragmatic solutions to allow unencumbered trade between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“The Prime Minister outlined his ambitions to further expand opportunities for all the people in Northern Ireland and hoped that the US would continue to work with the UK to boost prosperity there.

“The Prime Minister said he hoped that President Biden would attend the UK-hosted Cop26 summit later this year.

“The leaders agreed to not only work to reach net zero in their own countries, but also to make sure that developing world economies had access to green technology.”

Following the talks, Johnson said he was “optimistic” the peace process would be kept going.

Asked if Biden made his alarm about the situation in Northern Ireland clear, Boris Johnson said: “No, he didn’t.

“What I can say is that America – the United States, Washington – the UK plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do and that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going.

“That’s absolutely common ground and I’m optimistic that we can do that.”

Biden’s first overseas visit has provided the US President with the opportunity to repair some of the international relations damaged by predecessor Donald Trump.

Johnson said: “It’s wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and Joe Biden because there’s so much that they want to do together with us – on security, on Nato, to climate change.

“It’s fantastic, it’s a breath of fresh air.”

Biden said the meeting, which lasted around an hour and twenty minutes, had been “very productive”.

He told reporters in Cornwall the revitalised Atlantic Charter agreed by the two men would address the “key challenges of this century – cyber security, emerging technologies, global health and climate change”.

Biden said: “We affirmed the special relationship – that is not said lightly – the special relationship between our people and renewed our commitment to defending the enduring democratic values that both our nations share.”

Johnson dislikes the term “special relationship” as he reportedly believes it makes the UK sound needy.

Biden added that Mr Johnson had led a “strong campaign to get people vaccinated across the UK”.

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