Op-ed

New UK PM’s meeting with Biden canceled

Liz Truss will not meet the US president this weekend despite keeping other heads of state on her calendar

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street to attend her first Prime Minister’s Questions, London, September 7, 2022 ©  AP / Alberto Pezzali

A planned meeting between the new UK Prime Minister and US President Joe Biden in London has been called off, even as Liz Truss keeps Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other world leaders on her calendar for talks this weekend prior to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on Monday.

The queen died last week, just two days after directing Truss to form a government, and the flock of world leaders traveling to her funeral has created an opportunity for the new prime minister to score diplomatic points with the visiting heads of state.

However, the PM’s office announced on Saturday that Sunday’s planned face-to-face talks with Biden had been called off.

Downing Street offered no explanation for the scheduling change. Truss and Biden plan to hold a “full bilateral meeting” on Wednesday, when both leaders will be in New York City for the UN General Assembly. The queen’s funeral is scheduled for Monday.

Biden, who was one of the first world leaders to confirm his attendance at the funeral, left the White House on Saturday afternoon for his flight to London. It was unclear who called off the talks, but Biden was reportedly already aboard Air Force One when the meeting cancellation was announced.

READ MORE: Biden snubs Johnson in UK comments

Truss has already concluded meetings with her Australian and New Zealand counterparts, Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern. She spoke with UAE leader Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and she was still scheduled to hold a call with the Saudi crown prince on Saturday evening. Her meetings with Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Polish President Andrzej Duda also were proceeding as planned.

In congratulating Truss on her appointment as PM on September 6, Biden said he looked forward to deepening the “special relationship” between the US and the UK and working together on “global challenges,” including “support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression.”

Truss has referred to the US-UK relationship as “special, but not exclusive.” Although she and Biden are similarly hawkish on Russia, the White House has suggested that her support for legislation scrapping parts of London’s post-Brexit trading arrangements with Northern Ireland isn’t “conducive” to completing a long-awaited US-UK trade deal.

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