Johnson, Biden to ink new 'Atlantic Charter'

Pact to boost ties, lead pandemic recovery will be signed at face-to-face meeting in Cornwall

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arriving at Cornwall Airport Newquay in south-west England late on Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arriving at Cornwall Airport Newquay in south-west England late on Wednesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden were set to agree yesterday on a new version of the "Atlantic Charter" aimed at leading the world's pandemic recovery and bolstering ties.

The agreement would come when the leaders hold their first face-to-face talks on Mr Biden's first overseas trip as President.

The new pact, modelled on the 1941 accord signed by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, aims to emulate the original accord, which shaped the post-war world order by promoting democracy, free trade and opportunity.

The 2021 charter will cover everything from global defence and security to rebuilding from coronavirus and curbing climate change, according to Mr Johnson's Downing Street office. In remarks released ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson said close cooperation between London and Washington "will be crucial for the future of the world's stability and prosperity".

"The agreements President Biden and I will make today, rooted as they are in our shared values and outlook, will form the foundation of a sustainable global recovery," he added. "Eighty years ago the US President and British Prime Minister stood together promising a better future. Today we do the same."

Mr Johnson and Mr Biden were to sit down yesterday afternoon in Cornwall, south-west England, before leaders of the world's richest economies gather for a weekend summit.

Mr Biden touched down in Britain late on Wednesday ahead of the three-day gathering - the Group of Seven's (G-7) first in-person meeting since 2019 - beginning today in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay.

The new Atlantic Charter will outline eight areas where the transatlantic allies resolve to work together based around their "enduring values", Downing Street said. They include addressing threats posed by cyber attacks, climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as scaling up joint pandemic recovery work, including genomic sequencing and variant assessments.

The two leaders were also set to agree on several new policy priorities to underpin the charter, spanning travel, trade, post-Brexit issues in Northern Ireland and defence.

They were expected to establish a new task force which will make recommendations on safely restarting UK-US and other international travel "as soon as possible".

The task force, to be chaired by senior transport officials in both countries, will help them "share thinking and expertise" on international travel, as major airlines on both sides of the Atlantic urge a swift decision on resuming flights.

Meanwhile, Britain's hopes for a swift trade deal with the US after last year's departure from the European Union (EU) appear dented following Mr Biden replacing Brexit enthusiast Donald Trump in the White House.

Downing Street said Mr Biden and Mr Johnson will discuss ways of "further enhancing our economic relationship", including through a resolution to the civil aircraft dispute. But it made no mention of any trade agreement.

However, it added they are set to pursue a bilateral technology deal to be signed next year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2021, with the headline 'Johnson, Biden to ink new 'Atlantic Charter''. Subscribe