The American leader will meet King Charles III and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Biden will then travel to Lithuania for a NATO summit before ending this European sojourn with a visit to Finland.
US President Joe Biden arrived in Britain on Sunday, July 9, where he will meet British King Charles III and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before heading to the NATO summit in Vilnius, then to Finland.
The Democratic leader, who was flown in on Air Force One from a military base in Delaware, landed at Stansted Airport in north London in the evening.
He will meet Charles III at Windsor Castle on Monday, for the first time since his coronation, where Joe Biden was represented by his wife Jill.
According to the White House, the two heads of state must mainly address environmental issues. The US president is then due to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street.
But the heart of Joe Biden’s tour will be the NATO summit on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where Western allies will discuss their support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
The Democrat hopes to use this to convince Turkey to accept Sweden’s candidacy for NATO. “I think they should be part of NATO,” he said in a Sunday morning interview on CNN, saying he was “optimistic” about joining soon from Stockholm.
To overcome the reluctance of Turkey, which criticizes Sweden for its alleged leniency towards Kurdish militants who have taken refuge in the Scandinavian country, the US president has mentioned a solution which could involve modernizing the fleet of Turkish F-16 ‘is.
“I’m trying to put together some kind of consensus where we strengthen NATO through the military capabilities of both Greece and Turkey, and we allow Sweden to come in. But it’s not done yet,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Joe Biden spoke by phone on Sunday, with Ankara announcing a meeting between the two men in Vilnius to discuss “Ukraine’s place in NATO, Sweden’s membership in ‘NATO and delivery of F-16s.’
During this interview, the US president “expressed his desire to welcome Sweden into NATO as soon as possible”, the White House stated for his part.
The two leaders “expressed their joint commitment to continue supporting Ukraine,” she further clarified.
Ukraine ‘not ready’
But on Kiev’s NATO membership, Joe Biden was inflexible. “I don’t think she’s ready to be part of NATO,” he swept away in the same interview with CNN.
The membership process requires unanimity among the members. “I don’t think we have unanimity in NATO to bring – or not – Ukraine (…) into the middle of a war,” the president said. “We would be at war with Russia if that were the case,” he warned.
During his visit to Vilnius, Joe Biden will also deliver a foreign policy speech from a university in the city.
His diplomatic tour comes shortly after the United States’ controversial decision to supply Kiev with cluster munitions, which are banned by most NATO members but which the United States has kept in its arsenal.
The US president will end his tour with a visit to Helsinki, the capital of Finland, which ended its historically neutral position, then non-aligned to integrate NATO, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.