Joe Biden calls US and UK 'best of allies' as he meets Prime Minister Keir Starmer at Nato summit

10 July 2024, 23:41 | Updated: 11 July 2024, 00:48

The US President described the UK as the "best of allies"
The US President described the UK as the "best of allies". Picture: Getty

By Flaminia Luck

President Joe Biden has called the US and UK the "best of allies" and described Britain as "the transatlantic knot" that ties Nato together in his first meeting with Sir Keir Starmer.

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The two leaders met at the Nato summit in Washington DC before their talks in the White House.

Prime Minister Sir Keir congratulated Mr Biden on hosting the 75th anniversary, hailing "a bigger Nato, a stronger Nato and a Nato with the resolve that we need".

The summit marks Sir Keir Starmer's debut on the world stage, less than a week after the Labour landslide which installed him in No 10.

He told reporters in Washington DC his talks with world leaders were "an opportunity to make sure that those relationships are reset, for me to be able to say that our position on the world stage - leading on issues like defence and security, on climate change, and on energy - are so important".

President Biden with Keir Starmer at the White House
President Biden with Keir Starmer at the White House. Picture: Getty
Joe Biden and Keir Starmer shake hands in a symbol of unity
Joe Biden and Keir Starmer shake hands in a symbol of unity. Picture: Getty

Sir Keir was also said to have presented Joe Biden with a personalised Arsenal shirt when the pair meet at the White House.

The shirt, with Mr Biden's surname and the number 46 - a reference to his presidential number - will be handed over by UK officials to White House aides.

The Labour leader is an Arsenal season ticket holder and he hopes the personalised present will help strengthen what he called the the "very special relationship" between the UK and US on Wednesday.

A senior Downing Street official said: "It's his team and he thought it would make a personal gift."

The Prime Minister will also give the US leader a copy of the Atlantic Charter which paved the way for the formation of Nato, complete with then Labour leader Clement Attlee's amendments.

The new Prime Minister met the US President for the first time at the Nato summit in Washington before their talks in the White House later.

The president, 81, is seeking re-election in November despite discontent within the Democrat ranks about his suitability due to his age and concerns about his health.

Sir Keir, who has proposed forcing peers to retire from the House of Lords at 80, sidestepped a suggestion that meant Mr Biden was too old, instead insisting he was motivated by reducing the size of the Upper Chamber.

Sir Keir told reporters accompanying him on his first international trip as Prime Minister: "I've already had a phone call with President Biden.

"I want to follow up on that, this is obviously a very special relationship we have between the UK and the US.

"We have, within that, a special aspect when it comes to defence and security for obvious reasons including our commitment to Nato.

"We make a unique contribution in Europe to Nato and therefore it's a very good opportunity for me to talk to the President about how we take forward the important work at this summit."

Keir Starmer with President Of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington DC
Keir Starmer with President Of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington DC. Picture: Getty

Sir Keir Starmer also met with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky in the margins of the Nato summit in Washington DC.

They greeted each other with a hug and a handshake. Sir Keir told Mr Zelensky that there has been "a change of government but no change in position" with regards to the UK's support for Ukraine.

Defence Secretary John Healey and Foreign Secretary David Lammy joined the Prime Minister with officials around a table. Sir Keir said: "As you know from the get go .. there's a change of government but no change of approach."

He said the Russian attack on a hospital in Kyiv was "just shocking".

Mr Zelensky thanked Sir Keir for his words and for Britain's support.

"Thank you again that you are with us from the very beginning of the war," he said.

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Joe Biden and Keir Starmer smile at the Nato summit in Washington DC
Joe Biden and Keir Starmer smile at the Nato summit in Washington DC. Picture: Getty
Biden and Starmer alongside Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg
Biden and Starmer alongside Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg. Picture: Getty

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Sir Keir Starmer said the Nato summit would send a message to Vladimir Putin about the alliance's resolve to support Ukraine.

Arriving at the Washington DC summit, the Prime Minister said: "I've just had a very good meeting with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, where I made it absolutely clear that as far as the UK is concerned, the change of government makes no difference to the support that we will provide.

"We'd been united on this when we were in opposition, and it was really important to me to be able to affirm that face-to face at the meeting."

The summit was also a chance for the new Labour Government "to reaffirm our commitment to Nato" on its 75th anniversary.

It was a chance "to discuss with President Zelensky what further support he needs and to use our opportunity here with our allies to make sure that that support is agreed".

"And to reinforce, in a sense as a message to Putin, the resolve of Nato, bigger now than it's ever been, more united than it's ever been and absolutely clear eyed about the threat of Russian aggression," he added.

Follow the NATO summit with LBC
Follow the NATO summit with LBC. Picture: LBC

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