Jan 24, 2021 - World

Biden and Johnson discuss pandemic, NATO and trade in first phone call

Boris Johnson speaks to Joe Biden .

Boris Johnson speaks to Joe Biden. Photo: Andrew Parsons/No. 10 Downing Street

President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed on Saturday issues including trade, NATO and the coronavirus pandemic in their first phone call since the U.S. leader's inauguration.

Why it matters: A new trade agreement with the U.S. is a priority for Johnson, whose country completed its economic split with the European Union at the end of last year, AP noted.

What they're saying: Biden "conveyed his intention to strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalize transatlantic ties, underscoring the critical role of NATO to our collective defense and shared values," a White House readout of the call said.

  • "President Biden also noted the importance of cooperation, including through multilateral organizations, on shared challenges such as combatting climate change, containing COVID-19, and ensuring global health security," the readout added.

A statement from Downing Street said that Biden and Johnson also "discussed the benefits of a potential free trade deal between our two countries, and the Prime Minister reiterated his intention to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible."

  • "The Prime Minister warmly welcomed the President’s decision to re-join the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as the World Health Organization and the COVAX programme to ensure equitable access for vaccines," the statement added.

The big picture: Biden's conversation with Johnson came a day after the U.S. president spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador in separate phone calls.

Go deeper