President Joe Biden is stopping off in the UK on his way to a Nato summit in Vilnius, Lithuania (Picture: AP)
US President Joe Biden is to meet Rishi Sunak at Downing Street for talks about Ukraine, following apparent splits over controversial weapons and NATO membership.
The war will be among several pertinent topics on the agenda for the president’s visit to London today, which is also likely to include discussions on the environment and trade.
Biden broke with the stance of many US allies last week when he announced the US would be sending cluster munitions to Ukraine as part of an $800 million military aid package.
The weapons were the subject of a 2008 convention, signed by more than 100 countries including the UK, France and Germany, promising to stop their use.
Concerns have been raised about their impact on civilian populations, particularly children, as they can leave small explosives undetonated in areas long after soldiers have left.
The prime minister responded by saying the UK ‘discourages’ the use of cluster weapons, while not directly criticising Biden’s decision.
Defending the move, Biden said the bombs were needed to fortify Ukraine’s depleting ammunition stocks and he had received assurances about their use from Kyiv.
Downing Street would not say if the issue would be raised when the pair meet today.
The president will meet King Charles at Windsor Castle to discuss the climate (Picture: AP)
Another apparent area of disagreement between the US and UK was raised yesterday in a CNN interview with Biden.
The president said it would be ‘premature’ to start the process of allowing Ukraine to join NATO while the war is ongoing, a stance that clashes with Britain’s support for fast-track membership.
Biden told one of the news network’s presenters he did not ‘think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now’.
Air Force One landed at London Stansted yesterday evening for the president’s brief visit to the capital, a layover on his journey to Vilnius in Lithuania for a NATO summit.
Despite it not being a full-blown state visit, Biden will travel from Downing Street to Windsor Castle for a meeting with the King.
He will receive a royal salute and hear the US national anthem courtesy of the Welsh Guards, before having tea with Charles and meeting with attendees of a climate finance forum.
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