Biden, Johnson Chart Path for U.S.-U.K. Ties

President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to counter the influence of autocratic states during their first in-person meeting on Thursday and looked to smooth over disagreements regarding a complex arrangement to manage trade and preserve peace in Northern Ireland after Brexit, the Wall Street Journal reported. Ahead of the Group of Seven meeting this week, the two leaders backed a wide-ranging document that charts a path forward from a global pandemic that has killed millions, as the virus continues spreading in some parts of the world. In a five-page joint statement, they agreed to measures including deepening trading links, better cooperating to prepare for future pandemics and supporting the World Health Organization’s probe into the origins of Covid-19. They also agreed on a document—dubbed the “Atlantic Charter,” after the joint statement made by then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 when they set out their approach to a post-World War II world—that lays out broad principles to which the countries will adhere. The documents were light on detail. The countries have set up a task force aimed at reopening U.K.-U.S. travel, but with no timeline for doing so. The two sides also pledged to continue trade talks, which are currently stalled, but offered few specifics on timing. Brexit is another source of tension. The leaders discussed Northern Ireland, amid a dispute between the U.K. and the European Union over a complex arrangement to manage trade and preserve peace there. At issue is a post-Brexit agreement aimed at avoiding a hard border between Ireland, which is in the EU, and Northern Ireland, which is in the U.K. Instead, the U.K. and the EU have agreed to border checks on goods heading from Britain to Northern Ireland, effectively placing a border of sorts within the U.K. The EU and the U.K. are embroiled in a standoff over how the rules are implemented, as the British government balks over customs checks stymieing trade within the U.K. Read more. (Subscription required.)