While the NBA stars were at the White House on Tuesday afternoon meeting President Biden, Secretary Blinken hosted UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly at the State Department.
In his opening remarks at a joint press conference, Blinken welcomed Secretary Cleverly by referring to him as a “friend” with whom he traveled the world from New York to Bucharest.
During the bilat prior to the press conference, Blinken and Cleverly touched upon Ukraine, Northern Ireland Protocol and Iran.
Here are the 3 major points they’ve made at a joint press conference.
While the UK has sent the new tanks at Zelenskyy’s request, the US has yet to agree to do the same. Blinken expressed enthusiasm over Rishi Sunak’s decision to send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine but made it clear that the supply of tanks and other equipment are “sovereign decisions for any country to make.” He spoke about “incredible solidarity” from all around the world in support of Ukraine.
“Both President Biden and Prime Minister Sunak have committed to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Our teams remain in lockstep,” said Blinken.
“Never in living memory has Russia been more isolated and the transatlantic alliance more united,” said Cleverly. Earlier today, Biden spoke with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany about their ongoing assistance to Ukraine.
Blinken mentioned that there has been a narrative the Russians are trying to push that they are interested in diplomacy in Ukraine and Americans are not. “That is, of course, entirely false,” said Blinken.
Northern Ireland Protocol
The US and the UK have disagreements over the Northern Ireland Protocol. ERG in the UK has expressed a level of criticism over the appointment of Joe Kennedy as Biden’s new Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. At the press conference, however, neither Cleverly nor Blinken showed any sign of friction over the issue.
Blinken conveyed Biden’s “unequivocal support” for the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, adding that the US wants to see “a negotiated settlement” acceptable to all parties involved.
“We’re heartened that in recent days the United Kingdom and the European Union have made substantive progress towards the negotiated solution,” said Blinken.
Cleverly said that the UK recognizes the interest that the President of the United States has on Northern Ireland over “negotiated settlement” with EU. UK Foreign Secretary added that he wants to make “absolutely clear that our desire to get resolution on the issues of the Northern Ireland Protocol are because we want to see the institutions of the Good Friday – Belfast Good Friday Agreement up and running.” He said that the UK is expecting to see “a free flow of trade within the UK internal market whilst respecting the desire of the European Union to protect its single market.”
Cleverly added, that he prefers to be “discreet” over negotiation details as the process unfolds.
“I’d make the point that I have tried to keep our negotiations discreet, and I think that discretion has actually helped us get some things over the line.”
Blinken said that the US stands with the UK in “condemning Iran’s execution of Iranian-British dual national Alireza Akbari, which was politically motivated and unjust. It fits a pattern of abuse by the regime: detentions, torture, forced confessions, unjust executions.”
Cleverly acknowledged that Iran’s nuclear program “has never been more advanced” and that it poses a significant threat to international stability and security. He said that the US and UK are “determined” that Iran “must never acquire a nuclear weapon.”
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