Biden, British PM Sunak discuss Ukraine, AI, economy at White House meeting
President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met at the White House Thursday to shore up economic ties and discuss ways to help Ukraine repel Russian invaders.
Mr. Biden said the relationship between the countries is in “real good shape” and compared the meeting to historical ones between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, though said challenges are on the horizon.
“The global economy is undergoing the greatest transformation that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution,” Mr. Biden said.
Underscoring the rapid change, the U.K. plans to hold a global artificial intelligence summit in the fall that will bring together researchers and tech companies and discuss ways to monitor risks from AI.
Mr. Sunak, echoing Mr. Biden in the Oval Office, said, “Our economies are seeing perhaps the biggest transformation since the Industrial Revolution as new technologies provide incredible opportunities but also give adversaries more tools for harm. The one thing I know won’t change … is the strength of our partnership, our friendship. We will put values front and center as we’ve always done to deliver for the British and American people.”
Mr. Sunak, 43, is on his first visit to the White House since becoming prime minister in October, although he has met with Mr. Biden several times.
The pair met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia last fall, in Japan at the Group of Seven meetings last month, in Northern Ireland in April and in San Diego in March for a trilateral meeting on defense partnerships in the Indo-Pacific.
Ahead of his trip, Mr. Sunak told reporters that the U.S. is Britain’s 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,” he said. “That’s why it is so important for a U.K. 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.”
Ukraine is at the center of the bilateral talks, with Mr. Biden suggesting the nations are on the same page.
“Together we are providing economic and humanitarian aid and security systems to Ukraine in their fight against a brutal invasion from Russia,” Mr. Biden said. “As NATO allies we are working together to help provide the collective defense.”
Mr. Sunak said Europe is confronting its biggest war in a half-century.
“And as we’ve done before, the U.S. and the U.K. have stood together to support Ukraine and stand up for the values of democracy and freedom and make sure they will prevail as I know they will,” he said.
On the economy, Mr. Sunak told reporters en route to Washington that a trade agreement between the U.S. and Britain has not been a priority for either country of late, but they can shore up economic ties anyway.
“A free trade deal is not your only tool in the tool kit,” he said.
Mr. Sunak plans to present two gifts to Mr. Biden: a personalized Barbour jacket and a copy of a book by Mr. Biden’s great-great-grandfather Christopher Biden written in the mid-1800s.
The prime minister on Wednesday laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate leaders Charles E. Schumer and Mitch McConnell, visited a local school and attended a Washington Nationals baseball game as a guest of honor.