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Joe Biden urges Keir Starmer to get ‘closer with Europe’ as the new PM holds first talks with embattled US president amid push to renegotiate Brexit deal

Joe Biden has called on Britain to “get closer to Europe” during his first face-to-face talks with Keir Starmer.

The US president described the UK as the “transatlantic knot” connecting the two continents during his meeting with the new prime minister at the White House.

Sir Keir has promised to renegotiate the Brexit deal but fears he will have to make concessions, such as contributing to Brussels’ budget. However, he has insisted that Britain will not rejoin the customs union or the single market.

Biden has made much of his Irish roots and has been accused of siding with the EU, unlike his rival Donald Trump, during the divorce row.

The meeting came as Sir Keir made his debut on the world stage by attending a NATO summit in Washington.

The prime minister said the visit was an opportunity to “reaffirm” the military alliance and the “special relationship”.

The president said: ‘I see you as the knot that holds the transatlantic alliance together, the closer you are to Europe. We know where you are, you know where we are.’

The meeting came as Sir Keir made his debut on the world stage by attending a NATO summit in Washington

The meeting came as Sir Keir made his debut on the world stage by attending a NATO summit in Washington

The two leaders were in the famous Oval Office in the White House last night

The two leaders were in the famous Oval Office in the White House last night

Sir Keir told the President: ‘The special relationship is so important. It was forged in difficult circumstances, has endured for so long and is now stronger than ever.

‘I am very pleased to be able to join the government at such an early stage to reiterate my commitment to NATO and the special relationship and to discuss these matters with you.’

Boris Johnson is among those who warned that Labour will water down the terms agreed with the EU.

A British government spokesman said Biden and Sir Keir “agree that we must continue to do everything we can to support Ukraine and ensure that aggressors like Putin do not win”.

The spokesman added: ‘The President welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent comments on building closer relationships with our European counterparts, as well as the UK’s commitment to Aukus.’

The meeting came as Sir Keir prepared to urge NATO allies to support Ukraine “for as long as necessary”, confirming that Britain’s £3bn-a-year military aid to Kiev would continue.

The prime minister, who met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington yesterday at the NATO summit, will later tell alliance members to send a “clear message” to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

UK military support to Ukraine will last until at least 2030/31 and for as long as necessary.

Speaking at a special meeting on Ukraine at the NATO summit, Sir Keir will warn that the front line of defence in the Euro-Atlantic region is the Ukrainian trenches.

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He will say: ‘NATO was founded by the generation that defeated fascism. They understood not only the value of our strength, but also the power of our values.

“Those values ​​are under attack again. Putin needs to hear a clear message coming from this summit — a message of unity and determination, that we will support Ukraine at whatever cost, for as long as it takes, to uphold our shared values ​​and our shared security.”

The Washington summit confirmed Ukraine’s “irreversible” progress toward NATO membership, with a joint statement from the allies.

NATO leaders pose for a family photo as the summit began yesterday

NATO leaders pose for a family photo as the summit began yesterday

But because of NATO’s Article V, which emphasizes mutual defense, the allies will not allow Ukraine to join while there is still war, as that would immediately create a conflict with Russia.

NATO allies are stepping up their commitments to Ukraine as they await the results of the US presidential election in November, in which Donald Trump has threatened to cut US support.

Concerns about Biden’s plan to seek re-election were on full display during his meeting with Sir Keir in the Oval Office.

The president did not directly respond to questions about George Clooney’s criticism after the actor and prominent Democratic supporter suggested he would withdraw from the race.

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