WASHINGTONBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson made clear to US President Joe Biden on Saturday that he is eager to forge a new US-UK trade deal.
The push for the deal came in a broad-ranging call between the two leaders that touched on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as Biden announcing last week that the US would rejoin the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, according to a statement from Downing Street.
A new trade agreement between the allies is a higher priority for Johnson than it is for Biden. The United Kingdom regained control over its national trade policy at the start of the month following the end of a post-Brexit transition period.
No timeline yet
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday the administration had no timeline for forging a trade deal as Biden's attention is largely focused on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control and pressing Congress to pass his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.
Janet Yellen, Biden's Treasury secretary nominee, also signaled during her confirmation hearing last week that Biden was not eager to negotiate new trade deals.
"President Biden has been clear that he will not sign any new free trade agreements before the US makes major investments in American workers and our infrastructure," Yellen said.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that Johnson was the first leader outside North America to speak to Biden "after his scheduled call was brought forward two days in what will be seen as a major boost for the special relationship between the UK and US".
The call with Johnson was at least Biden's third call with a foreign counterpart since Friday. Biden spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday.
In his first call to a foreign leader as US president, Biden spoke with Trudeau on a number of topics and made plans to continue the conversation next month.
The discussions, according to a Canadian statement, would "advance the important work of renewing the deep and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States".
In a similar call on Friday, Mexican president Lopez Obrador confirmed on Twitter that he and Biden had discussed topics ranging from COVID-19 to migration.
On Saturday, the Mexican president said Biden had informed him of plans to launch a $4 billion US aid program for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The three countries account for many of those seeking to migrate to the US, most often by way of Mexico.
The White House declined to elaborate.
In 2019, angered by the influx of immigrants from Central America, then president Donald Trump froze an aid program worth about $450 million aimed at fighting crime and improving conditions in the three countries.
Agencies via Xinhua
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Johnson wants trade deal, but Biden has mind on other things - Chinadaily.com.cn - China Daily
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