President Joe Biden’s visit to the UK could prove awkward for both the US and UK governments as Biden meets Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III.
Biden’s trip to the UK comes ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania on Tuesday and Wednesday and amid disagreements between members of the military alliance over the US decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine.
The president will meet Charles III at Windsor Castle, one of the monarch’s residences, following criticism earlier this year that Biden’s decision not to attend the new king’s coronation was a slight.
Here are three reasons why Biden’s visit to the UK could be awkward.
1. Disagreement on cluster bombs for Ukraine
The United States is going ahead with its decision to provide cluster munitions to Ukraine despite concerns and criticism from other NATO members. While Prime Minister Sunak has not directly criticized the move, the decision has raised tensions.
On Saturday, Sunak noted that the UK is one of the 123 signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but the United States, Ukraine and Russia are not party to the convention.
Sunak has said the UK “discourages” the use of cluster bombs, but reiterated his government’s support for Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.
The disagreement over cluster bombs is significant as the US and UK have previously joined in their support for Ukraine and both countries. have supplied weapons to the Kyiv government.
2. NATO leadership rank
Ahead of this week’s NATO summit, the UK and US also appear to be in conflict over leadership of the alliance. Reports in the UK press over the weekend claimed that Biden has prevented British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace from becoming the next NATO Secretary General.
Sunak reportedly lobbied for Wallace to take over once current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg steps down next year. However, Biden reportedly favors EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for the top NATO job.
the daily telegraph reported that Wallace’s push to train Ukrainian pilots to fly US-made F-16s led to Biden’s decision to block him for the NATO job. Wallace reportedly began promoting the idea of training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s before the Biden administration approved the plan.
3. The absence of Biden’s coronation
Biden will meet King Charles III for the first time since the new king was crowned. The president had attended the funeral of the king’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, but not the subsequent coronation.
Biden was heavily criticized by some in the UK and US for not attending the coronation on May 6 despite visiting the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in April.
Former President Donald Trump was among those who took aim at Biden, saying: “When you have somebody going to sleep instead of attending the coronation as president of the United States, I think that’s a bad thing.”
However, no American president has ever attended the coronation of a British monarch. First Lady Jill Biden was in attendance along with her granddaughter, Finnegan Biden.
Biden’s meeting with the king in Windsor could lead to potentially awkward moments and their interactions will be closely watched.
news week has reached out to the White House by email for comment.