UK's Boris Johnson congratulates Biden ahead of inauguration

Mr Johnson also cited a host of policy areas in which he hoped to collaborate with Mr Biden. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said late Tuesday (Jan 19) he was looking forward to "working closely" with incoming US president Joe Biden, on the eve of his inauguration in Washington.

Mr Johnson, who has faced criticism over his close relationship with outgoing President Donald Trump, cited a host of policy areas in which he hoped to collaborate with Mr Biden.

"I warmly congratulate Joe Biden on his historic inauguration as 46th President of the United States and look forward to working closely with his new administration as we defeat Covid and build back better from the pandemic," Mr Johnson said in a statement.

"In our fight against Covid and across climate change, defence, security and in promoting and defending democracy, our goals are the same and our nations will work hand in hand to achieve them."

Britain is set to host a G-7 summit in Carbis Bay, south-west England, in June - the first face-to-face gathering of the world leaders' forum in almost two years - as well as the COP26 UN environmental gathering in Scotland in November.

Mr Johnson is hoping to use the events to bolster his image on the international stage, and position post-Brexit Britain as a leader on several key global issues.

"I look forward to welcoming him to Carbis Bay for the G-7 and Glasgow for COP as we join forces to protect our planet," Mr Johnson added.

"Only through international cooperation can we truly overcome the shared challenges which we face."

Britain left the European Union last year after nearly five decades of membership, and embarked on an uncertain future outside the bloc's rules and regulations on Jan 1.

Mr Biden has previously voiced his dismay at the UK move, predicting it would prove a geostrategic error.

The new US president has referred to Mr Johnson as a "physical and emotional clone" of Mr Trump, in a sign the pair may have a more distant relationship than those of past trans-Atlantic leaders.

However, Mr Johnson was the first European leader to speak to Mr Biden after his November election victory, and aides to the British premier insist it was a warm and constructive conversation.

Mr Johnson's Press Secretary Allegra Stratton told foreign media reporters in a briefing Monday that 2021 represented "a year of global leadership for the UK", which had a more "nimble" foreign policy post-Brexit.

"From G-7 to COP... Great Britain hopes to emerge as a sustainable, science superpower," she added.

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