When President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson met for the first time on Thursday, they pledged to open a US-UK travel corridor "as soon as possible" and to lift Transatlantic travel restrictions. They will also draft a new Atlantic Charter, built by the one drafted by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II.
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely halted transportation as the summer holiday season approaches, so international travel will be a big issue during this week's G7 Summit.
Biden, Johnson to form a task force to implement safe UK-US travel reopenings
Boris Johnson intended to question Joe Biden about establishing a green channel between their countries, allowing individuals who have been vaccinated to travel without having to follow a quarantine procedure.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 5 million British citizens visited the US each year, while over 4.5 million Americans visited the UK - more than any other country. To restore transatlantic travel, the two leaders will form a new task force to provide suggestions on how to do it safely.
Biden and Johnson will meet in person for the first time on Thursday. Since Biden's electoral victory, they have talked on the phone several times, Daily Mail reported.
In addition, Biden and Johnson will commit to a new Atlantic Charter, modeled by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt's historic joint declaration in 1941, which spelled out the leaders' ambitions for the world post-World War II. During the difficult days of the war, the US and the UK developed a particular friendship.
Since then, the charter has been used by both American and British leaders to characterize the tight alignment of their countries' interests. In remarks to Air Force troops upon his arrival in the UK, Biden emphasized the significance of the special relationship between the US and the UK.
Return of transatlantic tourism
Per The Daily Telegraph, people in the United Kingdom who are not US citizens are restricted from traveling to the United States, with a few exceptions, due to a restriction issued by Washington at the onset of the pandemic. A larger effort is ongoing among world leaders to agree on a single scheme for foreign travelers to prove their COVID-19 status, reducing the complexity of the existing system.
The leaders of the "Group of Seven" countries - the UK, US, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, and Japan - are meeting at Carbis Bay, Cornwall, for the first time in nearly two years. Mapping a way out of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, including supplying additional vaccinations to underdeveloped nations and restoring the global economy, will be at the top of their agenda.
However, domestically, concerns about whether the last step of the UK's reopening on June 21 would go forward as scheduled may dominate conversations on relaxing border restrictions. Boris Johnson said yesterday that COVID-19 infections, as well as cases in the UK, were on the rise and that more data was needed before final decisions were made on Monday.
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, whose modeling is popular in Whitehall, cautioned that a significant third wave of COVID-19 cases might emerge and grow to be as large as the second. The Bank of England's top economist, Andy Haldane, said that reopening on June 21 would be great for the economy and may drive the UK's growth rate beyond that of EU countries.
Joe Biden may force Boris Johnson's hand over Northern Ireland
Another topic the two leaders will discuss is the issue between the EU and the UK. The two sides' talks may be on the verge of collapsing, and London is still mulling unilateral action.
The EU Commission's vice president, Maros Sefcovic, responded by saying that "patience wearing thin" and relations with the UK are at a crossroads, as per The Independent. David Frost, the Brexit minister who appears to have cultivated a great deal of antipathy in the EU, has said that there has been no breakthrough.
The deadlock follows a significant outbreak of violence in Belfast - and elsewhere in Northern Ireland - in the spring, as well as widespread concern about the upcoming marching season, which has previously been a hotspot of violence.
According to US sources, when Biden meets Boris Johnson for the first time on Thursday, he will confront the developing problem in Northern Ireland. Biden will also urge European leaders he meets at the G7 conference to do everything possible to reach an agreement. He is unlikely to give the British administration an easy ride. The President's concern for Northern Ireland has been expressed by Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser.
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