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Boris Johnson Visits the White House

An often shaky relationship between Biden and Johnson hasn’t stopped the two countries from pursuing shared strategic goals.

By , the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the media.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the media at the United Nations General Assembly after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in New York on Sept. 20. Stefan Rousseau/Pool/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: British Prime Minster Boris Johnson visits the White House, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wins a third term, and Sudan claims to thwart a coup attempt.

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Boris Meets Biden

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: British Prime Minster Boris Johnson visits the White House, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wins a third term, and Sudan claims to thwart a coup attempt.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.

Boris Meets Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the White House today as the two countries enjoy a diplomatic honeymoon following the recently agreed so-called AUKUS defense pact.

After meeting in person over the summer, it will be another chance to improve relations following public disagreements on Northern Ireland’s status post-Brexit and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The shaky diplomatic relationship between the pair has represented a missed opportunity for Johnson, Chatham Houses Leslie Vinjamuri told Foreign Policy. “One way is to say it hasnt gotten in their way, and I guess the other way to look at it, and its probably how I look at it, is it could have been so much better,” Vinjamuri said, citing Johnson’s missteps on Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, Vinjamuri added, trust between the two countries remains high, despite concerns of Britain in retreat.

The two are expected to meet on a busy day for Biden, who will also meet Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in New York following his address to the United Nations General Assembly. Keeping up AUKUS momentum, Johnson will dine with Morrison this evening in Washington. (For a preview of Biden’s speech, be sure to check out U.N. Brief.)

Ban binned. There may be more room on the agenda than Britain anticipated in today’s meeting. Weekend reports indicated Johnson would take Biden to task on a travel ban that has prevented U.K. citizens from visiting the United States since March 2020. He won’t have to now, after the White House announced on Monday that all vaccinated travelers, regardless of nationality, would now be allowed to enter from November onward.

Climate policy is likely to figure prominently in discussions, as Johnson spends his week gathering support for COP26, the U.N. climate summit that takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. Afghanistan will also form part of the agenda, as the two leaders chart humanitarian policy toward the Taliban-controlled country.

Trade off. Talks on a U.K.-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA), a long-held goal of the Johnson government as it navigates its post-Brexit future, will remain on the back burner during today’s visit as Johnson realizes Biden already is seeking to push numerous policies through Congress. “On the FTA, the reality is that Joe has a lot of fish to fry,” Johnson said. “I would much rather get a deal that really works for the U.K. than get a quick deal.”

What We’re Following Today

Trudeau holds on. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s position as Canadian prime minister appears safe following Monday’s snap election, with local broadcaster CBC News projecting Trudeau will again to preside over a minority government. His party is projected to win almost exactly the same number of seats it held before the vote. It’s a mixed result for Trudeau, who had hoped to gain an outright majority but instead found himself locked in a tight race with the rival Conservative Party. The outcome is unlikely to disrupt Trudeau’s spending plans as he is expected to have parliamentary support from the left-leaning New Democrats.

Sudan’s coup attempt. Sudanese state media reported a “failed coup attempt” early Tuesday morning and called on the people to “confront” it. The coup reportedly involved an attempt to take control of the state radio services. If confirmed, the attempted power grab would be the fourth putsch attempt the African continent has seen this year, following military takeovers in Guinea and Chad and an unsuccessful coup in Niger.

Vaccines at UNGA. The United Nations Development Programme is hosting an event on the General Assembly’s margins to highlight the need for “urgent collective action on vaccine equity” amid vaccine delivery delays, with World Trade Organization chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala scheduled to address the gathering. The meeting coincides with some rare good news, as Indian Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced on Monday that his government would begin to export vaccines again following a pause to focus on its own COVID-19 surge.

Keep an Eye On

Iran’s top diplomat in New York. An unofficial seventh round of talks between world powers and Iran is expected to take place this week during the U.N. General Assembly as ministers from China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom meet with new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who announced the meeting on Monday, warned “time is playing against a potential accord” and urged Iran to appoint new negotiators as soon as possible.

Poland’s border. Poland will deploy 500 more troops to its border with Belarus to guard against what it calls a “hybrid attack” conducted by Belarus and Russia. Poland has accused Belarus of encouraging migrants to leave their home countries in the Middle East with the promise of a new life in Europe, a process that has led more than 8,000 migrants to attempt to cross into European Union territory this year alone. Poland’s troop surge comes after three migrants were found dead of hypothermia and exhaustion near the Belarusian border on Sunday.

Writing in Foreign Policy on Sept. 18, Tomasz Grzywaczewski reported from the Polish border on a brewing crisis.

Odds and Ends

The British drinks industry is in danger of falling flat as a carbon dioxide shortage threatens to deprive manufacturers of the gas used to bring bubbles to the nation’s beverages. The British Soft Drinks Association warned on Monday that the sector had “only a few days” of carbon dioxide left as Brexit barriers halt deliveries. The industry group said it can’t find extra supplies in Britain while help from Europe is hindered by suppliers who are prioritizing EU customers. Drink-makers have called on the British government to intervene to restart fertilizer factories (which produce food-grade carbon dioxide as a byproduct) to keep supplies flowing.

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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