US has 'no closer ally, no closer partner' than UK, says Antony Blinken

The US secretary of state has said America has ‘no closer ally’ than the UK as he met with his British counterpart, Dominic Raab, to urge international unity against threats from the likes of China and Russia.

Antony Blinken hailed the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries, saying that the US has ‘no closer partner’ in the world than Britain, as Raab said he and Blinken see ‘eye-to-eye’ on China’s challenge to their shared values.

Speaking after a meeting Britain’s foreign minister in London, on Monday, Blinken called for more countries to join UK and US efforts to defend open societies and ‘ruled-based order’ in China and Russia.

The US diplomat said he saw ‘an increasing demand and need for an agile cluster of countries that share the same values and want to protect the multilateral system’.

Blinken’s comments were made during the first meeting of G7 nations for two years, talks which will continue throughout the week, and also include diplomats from South Korea, Australia, India and South Africa. He said the fact the UK had invited those countries was ‘a sign that we can see a shift to a pattern of like-minded countries working together’.

Blinken explained how an allegiance of G7 nations is needed to defend threats from Beijing, including China’s repression at home and aggression abroad.

He said it was ‘not the US purpose to contain China, or hold it down’, and added: ‘What we are trying to do is to uphold the international rules-based order, that our countries have invested so much in over so many decades to the benefit, I would argue not just of our own citizens but of people around the world, including, by the way, China.

‘And when any country, China or otherwise, takes actions that challenge or undermine or seek to erode that rules-based order and not make good on the commitments that they’ve made to that order, we will stand up and defend the order.’

Raab, meanwhile, said Downing Street and Washington see ‘eye-to-eye’ on China’s challenge to their shared values. He also took the opportunity to urge Beijing to step up and do more to tackle issues like climate change.

He also said the door to international diplomacy was always open, but moved to warn Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, to end his ‘brinkmanship sabre-rattling on the border of Ukraine’. Raab also attacked Putin for ‘the cyber-attacks and misinformation and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny’.

While speaking about America’s ‘special relationship’ with the UK, Blinken did say Britain must protect the Northern Ireland peace deal, the Good Friday Agreement, which has come under threat from Britain’s Brexit negotiations with Europe.

Blinken also spoke to deny that the US had failed to consult its allies before decided to pull all US troops from Afghanistan, saying the decision had been endorsed unanimously at Nato.

He stated the US was convinced the decision was the right move.

Blinken said: ‘We have made it absolutely clear that as we withdraw our forces from Afghanistan we will protect them and take decisive action in response to any attacks.

‘We have also been clear our forces are drawing down, but we are not disengaging.

‘We intend to be very active diplomatically in trying to advance a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban.’

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