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Ukraine and AI on the agenda as Sunak meets Biden in the US

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a meeting with political journalists on board a government plane as he heads to Washington DC
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a meeting with political journalists on board a government plane as he heads to Washington DC Copyright ASSOCIATED PRESS
Copyright ASSOCIATED PRESS
By AFP
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UK Prime Minister reportedly wants new global artificial intelligence regulator to be based in London

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will make the case to President Joe Biden for the UK to play a significant role in the future global regulation of artificial intelligence during a two day visit to the United States. 

The two leaders will meet at the White House on Thursday afternoon and also reaffirm their support for Ukraine following the destruction of a major hydroelectric dam in the south of the country, for which both Moscow and Kiev are blaming each other.

Any intentional attack on the Kakhovka dam would represent "the most significant assault on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine since the start of the war and would show the new depths to which Russia is capable in its aggression", Mr Sunak told the press during the flight.

While London and Washington share the same line on the conflict in Ukraine and a firm stance against China, Rishi Sunak still wants to strengthen the UK's position on the world stage after Brexit.

On controlling the development of artificial intelligence, Rishi Sunak would like the future global regulator to be based in London, according to British media, highlighting the country's expertise and large tech sector.

But on this subject, the United States is in direct discussions with the European Union to implement the commitment made by the G7 leaders last month to work towards a "responsible use" of this technology.

And while Rishi Sunak is due to meet top US business leaders on Thursday morning, he has given up on the idea of quickly realising London's post-Brexit ambition of reaching a trade agreement with the United States.

"The relationship (between the UK and the US) is very strong on the fundamentals: defence, security, the attitude to China", says Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the US and Americas programme at the Chatham House think-tank.

"But on specific issues such as AI and trade, it is unlikely that Biden will give up much in the run-up to a decisive election year", she believes, adding that on AI the two countries "will probably be more naturally aligned" compared to the harder line taken by the European Union.

In the midst of the war in Ukraine, defence will be one of the main topics of discussion with Joe Biden.

According to several British media reports, Rishi Sunak will be pushing the candidacy of his Defence Minister Ben Wallace to succeed Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, whose term of office ends in October.

However, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby remained cautious about the US position at a time when some European countries are pushing for a woman or a leader from Eastern Europe to lead Nato for the first time.

"I have no doubt that the war in Ukraine will be a major topic of discussion" at Thursday's meeting, he said simply. "The British have been there, literally on the front line, helping Ukraine. And I have no doubt that they (Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden) will talk about how we can work together in the future", he added.

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