Joe Biden’s top foreign envoy today boosted hopes of a US-UK trade deal.
A transatlantic trade pact is a key goal of Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit plan to boost the economy.
But efforts so far have stalled – and a bid for an agreement with Donald Trump’s White House flopped before he was ousted from office.
Asked about a pact, Secretary of State Antony Blinken fuelled hopes a deal between America and Britain could be revived.
He said: "I am, I was, hopefully very positive because there is no closer relationship.
“And as we are grappling with problems, challenges, opportunities around the world, I find from my many conversations, many engagements with my counterpart Dominic Raab – also getting a chance to spend some time with the Prime Minister yesterday – that our two countries are profoundly in sync.
“And that makes a big difference."
Speaking following a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in London, he told the BBC: "As for a trade agreement, what we are doing now is our trade negotiator just got on the job, so she’s taking the time to go back and review everything that was discussed.
“That’s taking some time and we want to make sure that whether it’s with the United Kingdom or with anyone else, anything agreements we reach are consistent with the principles that President Biden has established, to focus on making sure that these agreements really advance the wellbeing of our workers and their families. That’s our focus."
He added: "Certainly we are looking very carefully at what’s already been discussed, what’s already been done in these conversations, and we will carry it forward from there."
On Iran, Mr Blinken said the US had shown its “seriousness and purpose” in seeking to strike a new nuclear deal after Donald Trump tore up the internationally agreed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
However, he said Tehran had to show it was willing to comply with the terms of the agreement – intended to curb its ability to develop a nuclear weapon – amid concerns it was close to achieving a “breakout” capability.
“Compliance is compliance and what we don’t know is whether Iran is prepared to make the same decision and to move forward,” he said.
“Right now, unfortunately, Iran has itself lifted many of the constraints imposed on it by the agreement because we pulled out, and it is now getting closer and closer again to that point where its breakout time is going to be down to a few months and eventually even less,” he said.
“So there’s nothing naive about this. On the contrary, it’s a very clear way of dealing with a problem that was dealt with effectively by the JCPOA and we’ll have to see if we can do the same thing again.”
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