Liz Truss flying to New York for meetings with Biden and Macron

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Liz Truss is set to meet Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron in New York amid Brexit tensions and whether she views the French leader as “friend or foe”.

On her first foreign trip as Prime Minister, Ms. Truss flew overnight to the United Nations (Unga) Annual General Assembly in the States.

The visit includes a series of meetings, including with the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen, and a speech to world leaders. It comes as political action resumes after the period of national mourning for the Queen.

Ms Truss hopes the focus will be mainly on energy security and fighting Russia’s war in Ukraine, but clashes over the Northern Ireland Protocol are bound to erupt.

Mr Biden, the US President with a proud Irish heritage, has raised concerns about Brexit’s threat to the peace process and downplayed the chances of a free trade deal.

His French counterpart, Mr Macron, has long been a critic of Brexit and has urged the UK to honor commitments on Northern Ireland and fishing rights.

Instead, the then foreign secretary said last month that the “jury had fallen.”

Ahead of the visit, the Prime Minister’s spokesman described France as a “long-standing ally” and stressed that relations between London and Paris and with the EU were “good”.

Asked if meeting Mr Macron would be uncomfortable, the spokesman said: “No, the Prime Minister wants to develop a constructive relationship with President Macron.”

However, the spokesman maintained his position on the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Act, which the EU and others say will break international law.

Ms Truss will meet Mr Macron and Ms von der Leyen on Tuesday before meeting Mr Biden on Wednesday. She was due to speak with the US President in the UK over the weekend when he was arriving for the Queen’s funeral, but the meeting has been postponed.

Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron is set to meet Ms Truss for a potentially difficult meeting (Phil Noble/PA)

She is not to receive the White House visit that Boris Johnson was treated to during his visit to Unga last year.

Meetings with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Spain’s Pedro Sanchez and Israel’s Yair Lapid are also scheduled, and Ms Truss will warn that now is not the time to “take your foot off the gas” to speak out against Vladimir Putin’s to invade Ukraine.

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“We will remain committed to restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and self-determination because this is not only Ukraine’s struggle, the whole world suffers when a regime like Putin’s is allowed to harass and blackmail its neighbors,” he said her speaker.

She will try to use the visit to “inspire further international action to end energy dependency on Russia and ensure the world never gets into this situation again.”

“In the short term, this means increasing supplies of gas and other energy sources, and in the long term, it means democracies using our shared natural, technological, and corporate resources to develop alternative energy sources.”

Before Ms Truss leaves the States on Wednesday night, she will say in her summit speech that under her leadership the UK will be “an active defender of our democratic values” and stand with allies against authoritarianism.

The journey begins with a hectic few days of political action in Ms Truss’ young Prime Minister, details of how businesses are being helped through the energy crisis and a major announcement about the NHS bill.

Labor urged the Prime Minister to use the trip to begin “rebuilding our country’s diplomatic clout”.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, who also attended the Unga, said: “Twelve years of conservative governments making diplomatic gaffes, announcing plans to break international law, failing to deliver on climate protection promises and cutting international aid have severely impacted relations with the damaged the US, leaving Britain isolated on the global stage.

“Having been snubbed by the Biden administration in her first few weeks in office, Liz Truss urgently needs to recognize the damage her reckless approach to foreign policy is doing to Britain’s national interests.

“The Prime Minister must use the UN General Assembly to bring the UK back out of the cold and rebuild our country’s diplomatic clout.”

Mr Cleverly will call for action against Russian barbarism in Ukraine in a series of meetings with his counterparts, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

He will attend a meeting of the UN Security Council at foreign ministerial level on Thursday to discuss the Russian invasion.

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