After the royal funeral, Britain’s new leader Truss makes his UN debut

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LONDON (AP) — Liz Truss is going from the solemnity of a royal funeral to the whirlwind of international politics and a crucial meeting with President Joe Biden.

The British Prime Minister flew to New York on Monday for the United Nations General Assembly, fresh from the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, whose death and commemoration dominated the start of the new leader’s term.

Truss won a Conservative Party leadership race earlier this month and was appointed Prime Minister by the Queen on September 6, just two days before the monarch died.

The war in Ukraine will be at the forefront of Truss’s message during her first UN address as British leader on Wednesday, calling for more support for Kyiv and calling on nations to stop buying Russian oil and gas .

“Too many lives – in Ukraine, in Europe and around the world – are being manipulated by a reliance on Russian energy,” Truss said in a statement released by his office. She accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of condemning “millions of people in Europe to a colder and more difficult winter” by cutting gas supplies.

Britain imports little oil and gas from Russia compared to other European countries, but has been hit by soaring global energy prices, causing a cost-of-living crisis that is the single biggest domestic challenge. pressing from Truss.

She has announced plans to expand oil and gas drilling in the North Sea and lift a ban on fracking to reduce the UK’s reliance on imported fuel. Environmentalists accuse him of backtracking on his predecessor Boris Johnson’s firm pledge to cut the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Spokesman Max Blain insisted that Truss is “committed to achieving net zero”, but that getting there “involves the use of transitional fuels like oil and gas”.

The UK has been one of the largest contributors after the US of military and civilian aid to Ukraine, and Truss wants to reassure her allies that she will maintain Johnson’s unwavering support. She will promise that in 2023 Britain will “match or exceed” the 2.3 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) in military aid given to Ukraine this year.

World leaders are heading to UN headquarters in New York this week for an all-in-person general assembly after two years of virtual and hybrid summits. Many saw each other in London on Sunday and Monday at the Queen’s funeral, a gathering of royalty and political power attended by Biden and other heads of state from around the world.

Truss is no international stranger – she was Britain’s Foreign Secretary for a year under Johnson, and Minister for International Trade before that. Now she’s looking to make an impression in her own right and smooth the feathers ruffled by the erratic Johnson. The former British Prime Minister gave a memorable speech to the General Assembly in 2019, a riff on the perils and promise of technology that mentioned “terrifying limbless chickens” and “rosy-eyed Terminators of the future”.

Truss is a more restrained figure, but she shares Johnson’s commitment to Brexit – Britain’s departure from the European Union – and the country’s sometimes combative attitude towards the EU. This position means she may struggle to forge warm bonds with Biden.

Truss and the US president are due to meet in New York on Wednesday, after scraping a planned one-on-one meeting in London ahead of the Queen’s funeral.

Biden has expressed concerns about the impact of Britain’s departure from the EU on peace in Northern Ireland, a part of the UK that shares a border with EU member Ireland.

Brexit has brought new customs checks and new documents for Northern Ireland’s trade, an issue that has turned into a political crisis for the power-sharing government in Belfast.

In response, Johnson’s Conservative government announced plans to suspend controls and tear up part of its Brexit treaty with the EU – a move that angered the bloc and alarmed Washington. Biden has warned that neither side should do anything to undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, a cornerstone of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Truss says she wants to reach a deal with the EU but will go ahead with rewriting the treaty if that fails, a step that could escalate into a trade war between Britain and its most major trading partner.

“We want to reach a negotiated solution and that is our goal,” said Blain, his spokesman. “But as you know, we are moving in parallel with the bill because the UK position remains that the status quo damages the Good Friday Agreement, and we need to find a resolution.”

Kim Darroch, a former British ambassador to Washington, said Biden and Truss would aim for cordial ties because “it’s important for any American president to be seen to have a good relationship with the British prime minister.” This is what the American public expects.

“But I very much doubt – we’ll see – that the Biden-Truss bilateral in New York will lead to a breakthrough on Northern Ireland,” he told the BBC.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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