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U.S.-U.K. plan would strengthen cooperation from trade deals to AI rules

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

President Biden says his White House meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was about upgrading their transatlantic relationship.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Our economic partnership is an enormous strength and source of strength that anchors everything that we do together.

MARTÍNEZ: Both leaders announced a new plan to strengthen cooperation, with everything from trade deals to international rules for AI. And they also affirmed unwavering support for Ukraine. The British ambassador to the U.S., Karen Pierce, was at the White House with them yesterday.

Ambassador, the new economic partnership that's been announced, the Atlantic Declaration, does that give the U.K. everything it was hoping to get?

KAREN PIERCE: Absolutely. We've negotiated very closely with our friends in the White House and throughout the U.S. interagency process. As the prime minister and the president said, fundamentally, this is about extending the relationship to meet the new challenges of the 21st century, which includes things like economic coercion and bringing big questions of economic security. So if you like, we had the defense and security relationship well cemented after the Second World War. Now we're in the 21st century. We've got new challenges. This is about extending the relationship to meet those new economic challenges.

MARTÍNEZ: Ambassador, how tied are the things in the Atlantic Declaration to the Biden administration remaining in the White House?

PIERCE: Oh, not - I mean, not to speak to bind a future administration. That's not a question for me as a diplomat. But I think any American government would want to do things to strengthen resilience, to work with transatlantic partners like the U.K. to strengthen peace and stability in a free and open Indo-Pacific, to cooperate with partners against economic coercion and to make supply chains resilient - as well as looking at things like AI, quantum, all these new challenges. So I'm pretty confident these are themes that are going to endure probably for many decades. And the president was very clear that what happens in the next few years is going to shape the trajectory of the first half of the 21st century. We would very much agree with that.

MARTÍNEZ: Still, no post-Brexit trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. How far out of reach is that?

PIERCE: Well, we weren't asking for a trade deal. The reason being that these new challenges, this new economic partnership is something that Secretary Yellen has touched on, something NSA Jake Sullivan has touched on in terms of the new challenges, as I say, of the 21st century. And we think a broader economic partnership is right at this time to help us put in place the things we need, the tools we need, the agreements we need, to meet those new challenges. And so we were not pressing for a trade deal. And the Biden administration completely understand that. And if you look at the text of the declaration, there are various agreements on critical minerals, which is a vital part of this new set of challenges. There is work going forward on supply chains and a whole range of AI cooperation.

MARTÍNEZ: That's the U.K.'s ambassador to the United States, Karen Pierce. Ambassador, thank you very much.

PIERCE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.