Starmer heads to Nato summit as alliance marks 75th anniversary

Starmer heads to Nato summit as alliance marks 75th anniversary

Sir Keir’s first overseas trip as new Prime Minister

Nato leaders are gathering in Washington on Tuesday as the alliance marks its 75th anniversary, with US President Joe Biden set to host Sir Keir Starmer at the White House.

The summit will be the Prime Minister’s debut on the world stage and provide an early opportunity to meet Mr Biden, who is hosting the gathering.

But with Mr Biden’s position under threat, both from Republican rival Donald Trump and Democrats concerned about the 81-year-old seeking a second term, the US leader may be preoccupied with domestic concerns.

The Prime Minister’s schedule will mean he will not join the Nato summit until the main working sessions begin on Wednesday, as Parliament reconvenes following the election on Tuesday.

Sir Keir will appear in the Commons as Prime Minister for the first time as the formal process of re-electing Sir Lindsay Hoyle as Speaker takes place.

The Prime Minister said he would be flying to Washington on Tuesday night to demonstrate his “unshakeable” support for the alliance.

Support for Ukraine will be at the top of the agenda for the Washington summit.

It will be key talking point as Mr Biden hosts Sir Keir at the White House on Wednesday, with the president’s press secretary saying the former will “underscore the importance of continuing to strengthen the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom”.

The leaders will also have the opportunity to discuss UK-US cooperation on advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, reaching a ceasefire and hostage release deal in Gaza, Iran and the threat of Houthi rebels to commercial shipping.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “The leaders will also discuss furthering our bilateral cooperation in areas such as protecting advanced technologies and developing climate and clean energy solutions.”

Defence Secretary John Healey has already visited Ukraine to promise more artillery guns and shells along with nearly 100 Brimstone missiles.

With the prospect of a sceptical Mr Trump entering the White House after November’s election, there is also likely to be a focus on getting European Nato members to spend more on defence.

The Government has an ambition to increase spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy, when the nation’s finances allow.

But during the election campaign Sir Keir was criticised by his Tory rival Rishi Sunak, who in Government had set out a plan to reach 2.5% by 2030.

Ahead of the Nato summit, Sir Keir said it would be “an opportunity for me to have further discussions with some of the leaders I’ve already spoken to and some that I’m due to speak to”.

At his first press conference as Prime Minister on Saturday he said it was an “important summit” for the transatlantic alliance and gave him the chance to “make clear our unshakeable support of Nato”.

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