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UK’s Sunak, Biden to focus on deepening economic ties at White House meeting

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By Andrea Shalal and Kate Holton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will focus on deepening close economic ties between the United States and Britain when they meet at the White House on Thursday, with Russia’s war in Ukraine another big topic for the NATO allies.

U.S. and British officials said the two leaders will review a range of global issues, including joint economic and security interests, artificial intelligence, support for Ukraine, and further action to accelerate the clean energy transition.

The meeting, their fourth in as many months, comes as Western officials race to ascertain whether Russia was responsible for the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, which has displaced thousands of people and caused major economic and environmental damage. Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for the dam’s destruction.

The two leaders will field questions at a joint news conference after their meeting, an opportunity not afforded to every world leader who visits the White House, and will also issue a joint statement, officials said.

Biden and Sunak last met in Hiroshima, Japan, at the Group of Seven summit last month. They also met in Belfast in April and in San Diego in March at a trilateral event marking the defense partnership of the U.S., Australia and Britain.

The two will discuss joint U.S.-UK leadership on critical and emerging technologies, as well as coordinated efforts to strengthen both countries’ economic security, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.

The discussion will touch on artificial intelligence safety, Britain announced late Wednesday, saying it would host the first summit on the issue this autumn to discuss how the risks of AIcan be mitigated through internationally coordinated action.

Sunak hopes to strengthen trading ties between Britain and the United States, keen to show some progress after the Biden administration quashed any speedy prospect of a post-Brexit free trade agreement between the two countries.

Britain has cemented deals with individual states and is hoping to reach other such “targeted agreements.”

Sunak is also expected to try to win Biden’s backing for defence minister Ben Wallace’s bid to become the next secretary-general of NATO.

The British leader visited the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, where he met with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.

Sunak said on Wednesday a new alliance would help London and Washington protect supply chains and navigate a global economy where new powers are “manipulating global markets, withholding crucial resources and trying to establish a stranglehold over the industries that will define our future.”

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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