Johnson calls Biden 'breath of fresh air' following 'great' talks

10 June 2021, 18:39 | Updated: 10 June 2021, 20:23

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “absolutely common ground” between the UK, US and European Union that the Good Friday Agreement should be protected
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “absolutely common ground” between the UK, US and European Union that the Good Friday Agreement should be protected. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson said his talks with Joe Biden were "great" and dealing with the new US President was a "breath of fresh air".

The Prime Minister told reporters: "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."

The two leaders are currently in Cornwall for the G7 summit, but took the time today to meet each other alongside US First Lady Jill Biden and Mr Johnson's new wife Carrie Johnson.

A Downing Street spokesman said the two world leaders "agreed to work to reopen travel and to continue to share information that will help defeat the spread of coronavirus in our countries and internationally".

Read more: Boris Johnson and President Biden meet ahead of G7 summit

On the thorny issue of Northern Ireland's post-Brexit trading arrangements, the spokesman said: "The Prime Minister and President both reaffirmed their commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and to protecting the gains of the peace process.

"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."

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

"But 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."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister and President discussed the importance of the relationship between the UK and the US for protecting our people, boosting prosperity in both our countries and promoting our values around the world.

"They covered a number of foreign policy issues, including Afghanistan, China, Iran and Russia.

"They agreed that the UK-US partnership was more important than ever as we tackle shared challenges like climate change and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Prime Minister and President concurred that the revitalised Atlantic Charter published today was a fitting testament to the sheer breadth and depth of the co-operation between our countries.

"They resolved to take this co-operation further by expanding trade and progression towards a future UK-US Free Trade Agreement, a deal which would create jobs and bring new opportunities to both of our countries."

Leaders from the G7 - UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy - are due to meet to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and recovery.

Wealthy nations are being pressed to do more to distribute vaccines to less developed parts of the world.

It also comes as Mr Johnson comes under pressure for cuts to foreign aid - though the Government insists the numbers are boosted by its contribution to vaccines.

More to follow...