UK News

Sunak and Biden will meet in the UK amidst divisions over the US proposal to deploy cluster bombs to Ukraine.

The prime minister will meet with his American counterpart after publicly refusing to support his proposal to transport the armaments, which are prohibited by 123 countries, to Kyiv.

Today, US Vice President Joe Biden will travel to the United Kingdom amid rising tensions over his decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine.

This evening, Air Force One is anticipated to land at Stansted Airport before Mr. Biden meets Rishi Sunak in Downing Street and the King at Windsor Castle on Monday.

Mr. Biden’s stopover in the United Kingdom precedes a pivotal two-day NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, beginning on Tuesday, at which leaders are scheduled to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and the viability of the military alliance in the face of growing demand from several nations to join.

It comes as controversy grows over the White House’s announcement that it will send cluster munitions to Kyiv, despite the fact that the use of these weapons is prohibited by 123 nations, including the United Kingdom.

Mr. Biden, who will be accompanied on his European travel by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, called it a “difficult decision” but insisted he was compelled to act because “the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.”

However, Mr. Sunak publicly opposed the proposal while speaking to reporters on Saturday, noting that the United Kingdom is “a signatory to a convention that prohibits the production and use of cluster munitions and discourages their use.”

He added, “We will continue to do our part to support Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion, but we have already done so by supplying heavy battle tanks and, more recently, long-range weapons. Hopefully, all nations will continue to support Ukraine.”

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee and member of the Conservative Party, has urged the United States to “reconsider” its position.

He tweeted, “This is a poor decision that will alienate international support. Their use leaves lethal residual ordnance over the battlefield, causing civilian deaths and injuries.”

UK opposition to cluster weapons

Critics assert that cluster bombs, which are dropped over a broad area, murder and maim indiscriminately.

They have also been compared to landmines due to the fact that they can fail to detonate upon impact and sometimes remain undiscovered for years, until they are inadvertently detonated by unwitting civilians.

The US’s Western allies appear divided over the decision, with Germany declining to criticise the move while Spain has voiced concern.

Russia and Ukraine have already employed cluster munitions in the conflict and, like the United States, are not signatories to the international treaty prohibiting their employment.

Despite the tensions, the White House reported that Mr. Biden was looking forward to his meeting with Mr. Sunak, which will include “comparing notes” on Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia.

Mr. Sunak and Mr. Biden will not likely conduct a simultaneous news conference in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sunak will use the NATO summit to urge allies to increase their military expenditure, according to Downing Street.

Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak during a meeting in California back in March. Pic: AP

The prime minister stated in a statement, “As we confront new and unprecedented threats to our physical and economic security, our alliances are more vital than ever.

“The United Kingdom is Europe’s most important NATO ally, the United States’ most important trade, defence, and diplomatic partner, and a leader in providing Ukraine with the support it needs to succeed on the battlefield.

“We have forged and invested in these alliances because we know they are the foundation of our strength and security.”

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