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Britain “discourages” the use of cluster bombs, a day after Biden agreed to supply the controversial munitions to Ukraine, Rishi Sunak said the transatlantic ally would not work together on the initiative.
The British prime minister is expected to discuss the matter with Biden on Monday, when the pair meet during the US president’s brief visit to Britain before the two travel to the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius later in the week.
Britain is a signatory to the international convention banning the use of weapons that are still considered responsible for civilian deaths decades after conflicts have ended. The US is not a signatory.
The convention “prohibits the production or use of cluster munitions and discourages their use”, Sunak said on Saturday. He did not explicitly criticize Biden’s decision.
US officials said on Friday that their country would supply weapons to Ukraine. In an interview with CNN, Biden said it was a “very difficult decision” and that it “took a while to gain trust” but that Ukrainian forces had “run out of ammunition”.
The US And Britain is the largest supplier of arms to Ukraine, and Sunak and Biden have a largely shared position on the conflict. Last month they held successful talks in Washington.
The two countries are also engaged on other geopolitical strategic issues in the Pacific region, including the OCCUS Treaty.
Amanda Slott, senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, said Biden’s meeting with Sunak will focus on NATO and Ukraine.
“I would imagine this will be an opportunity for them to touch base on developments and discussions going forward at the summit in Vilnius,” Slott told reporters on Friday.
She added: “It will be an opportunity for them to compare notes on both our support for Ukraine and their ongoing efforts on the battlefield.”
British officials have suggested that Biden’s main goal is to visit King Charles at Windsor, although it is not an official state visit. He will have a tight schedule: from his overnight stay at Winfield House, the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, he will travel to 10 Downing Street, then fly by helicopter to Windsor Castle and a short distance to Stansted Airport. hour
A US official stressed that both meetings were “important” for the White House, given the “importance of close, continued coordination with the UK, our closest ally”.
On Friday, White House press secretary Caryn Jean-Pierre brushed off criticism that Biden did not attend the coronation of King Charles III in May. “He called with the king and congratulated him.”
US presidents have not previously attended coronations of British monarchs.
The biggest source of tension between the US and the UK in recent years has been over Northern Ireland, but that eased after Sunak reached the Windsor Framework deal with the EU earlier this year.
However, Slott said Biden was “very focused on working in partnership with the UK, with Ireland and continuing to ensure peace and prosperity and stability in the wider region”.