Shropshire Star

Starmer meets Scholz in first of diplomatic flurry of Nato meetings

Sir Keir Starmer met the German chancellor in his first meeting after landing in Washington, as the new Prime Minister seeks deeper ties with Europe.

Last updated
Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Washington DC in the US ahead of a Nato summit

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as part of a frenzy of diplomacy as ministers push for a “significant improving” of security ties with Europe.

This was Sir Keir’s first meeting since he landed in Washington for the Nato summit, underlining the importance the Prime Minister is placing on European diplomacy.

“The Chancellor welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to resetting the UK’s European partnerships, noting how important our friendships with like-minded countries will be in a challenging international environment,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

They discussed the need for enhanced defence co-operation in Europe to act as a deterrent for aggression by hostile actors.

They also agreed that the Nato summit was an opportunity to strengthen support for Ukraine and firmly commit to striking a “deep UK-Germany defence agreement”, which they said they were determined to start work on “without delay”.

“The Prime Minister and the chancellor look forward to meeting again at the European Political Community summit in the UK next week to continue these discussions,” No 10 said.

This week’s Nato summit and the UK-hosted European Political Community (EPC) gathering on July 18 provide early opportunities for face-to-face talks on the future of the UK’s relationship with its neighbours.

Sir Keir said it meant that a series of meetings which would normally take months to arrange could happen within the first fortnight of his premiership.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, who has been given the newly created job of minister for European relations, has joined Sir Keir on the trip to Washington for the Nato gathering.

Foreign Secretary David Lammy and Defence Secretary John Healey are also in Washington.

Mr Thomas-Symonds was also at the meeting with the German leader.

Sir Keir Starmer meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a landscaped area
Sir Keir Starmer meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington DC (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Keir also met Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson, with the pair discussing the “enduring friendship” between their two countries.

“The Prime Minister welcomed Sweden’s ongoing military support for Ukraine, and the two leaders agreed the Nato summit provides an important opportunity to go further,” a government spokesman said.

“They agreed their partnership would only deepen now that Sweden is a fully-fledged member of Nato.”

The Prime Minister told reporters he wanted to take full advantage of the diplomatic opportunities that the timing of the election had presented him with.

He said: “It has provided a really important window of opportunity for me and my team, because we’ve got the Nato summit within a week of the election, so we get the opportunity to strengthen our relations with various of the Nato leaders and others obviously that are there, including EU leaders.

“Now that is a follow-up, if you like, on some of the phone calls that I’ve already had with international leaders that I’ve been doing since the King invited me to form a government.

“And then of course we’ve got the EPC coming up at the tail end of next week, so that’s why I wanted Nick and David and John and me – I want to make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity.

“These are meetings that would probably take months and months and months for us to fit in as a team, if we were not taking advantage of this summit for the purposes of those relations and the EPC.

“The central purpose is obviously all about Nato but it is a very important opportunity to strengthen those relations.”

The Prime Minister wants to achieve an improved trading relationship with Brussels but he also wants greater defence co-operation with the EU.

He said: “On the defence and security pact this is really important to us.

“I do think there is scope for a significant improving of our defence and security relationship with the EU.

“I think this is complementary with Nato.

“Nato is still the cornerstone of defence in Europe and our approach on defence has always been Nato first.

“I do see scope for complementing that.

“That is why we are wanting to advance the defence and security pact or agreement with the EU.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.