Boris Johnson and Joe Biden will set out their joint vision for a “sustainable global recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic when they meet ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall.
Holding their first face-to-face talks on Thursday, the leaders are expected to agree what has been billed as a new Atlantic Charter – a reference to the declaration of post-war cooperation between Winston Churchill and President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1941.
According to Downing Street, the meeting will focus on climate change, security, the global trading system and defending democracy, as well as efforts to coordinate how transatlantic travel can resume safely.
In a statement ahead of the talks the prime minister said: “While Churchill and Roosevelt faced the question of how to help the world recover following a devastating war, today we have to reckon with a very different but no less intimidating challenge – how to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The agreements President Biden and I will make today, rooted as they are in our shared values and outlook, will form the foundation of a sustainable global recovery.
“Eighty years ago the US President and British Prime Minister stood together promising a better future. Today we do the same.”
Earlier this week, The Atlantic reported Boris Johnson‘s dislike of the phrase ‘special relationship’, with the magazine suggesting he believed it made the UK seem “needy and weak”.
In the statement ahead of his meeting with President Biden, Mr Johnson omitted any reference to the term, instead describing the UK and US as “the closest of partners and the greatest of allies”.
In addition to the commitments in the new Atlantic Charter, the leaders will also identify shared policy priorities, including:
• A UK-US taskforce bringing together both country’s transport departments to work towards the safe resumption of international travel
• Reducing the barriers UK tech firms face when working with US counterparts
• Improving the UK-US economic relationship by finding a resolution to the trade dispute around subsidies, which has seen tariffs imposed in relation Airbus and Boeing
The area where there is the greatest risk of disagreement is thought to be over the situation in Northern Ireland, where a dispute with the EU over the UK government’s implementation of the protocol governing customs checks has resulted in growing tensions and the risk of a trade war.
On Wednesday Mr Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said: “President Biden believes and has said that the Northern Ireland Protocol, as part of the agreement between the UK and the European Union, is critical to ensuring that the spirit, promise and future of the Good Friday Agreement is protected.”
Panera Bread’s caffeinated Charged Lemonade drinks blamed for two deaths in US
A highly caffeinated drink sold by US bakery chain Panera Bread has been blamed for two deaths after a second lawsuit was filed on Monday.
Dennis Brown is said to have drunk three Charged Lemonades from a Panera Bread on 9 October before suffering a fatal cardiac arrest on his way home in Florida, according to Sky News’ partner network NBC News.
The 46-year-old did not normally consume energy drinks because he had high blood pressure, according to lawsuit filed this week.
It adds that it is unclear whether Mr Brown, who had had a developmental delay and a mild intellectual disability, knew how much caffeine and sugar was in the drink because it was available in self-serve dispensers “offered side-by-side with all of the store’s non-caffeinated and/or less caffeinated drinks.”
Mr Brown’s cause of death was cardiac arrest due to hypertensive disease, according to a death certificate seen by NBC News.
Panera advertises the beverage as “plant-based an clean with as much caffeine as our dark roast coffee.”
The complaints refer to it as a “dangerous energy drink” and argue that Panera fails to appropriately warn consumers about its caffeine contents.
A large cup, the lawsuits allege, contains 390mg of caffeine – more than the caffeine content of standard cans of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks combined.
In a statement provided to NBC News, Panera expressed its “deep sympathy for Mr Brown’s family” and said it stood by the safety of its products.
“Based on our investigation we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products,” it added.
“We view this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, to be equally without merit. Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products.”
The first legal complaint referred to Sarah Katz, who died on 10 September last year after going into cardiac arrest.
The lawsuit filed in October alleges the 21-year-old, who had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1, bought a Charged Lemonade from a Panera Bread store in Philadelphia hours before her death.
She did this, it claims, despite the fact she avoided energy drinks at the recommendation of her doctors.
Her roommate and close friend, Victoria Rose Conroy, told NBC News: “She [Ms Katz] was very, very vigilant about what she needed to do to keep herself safe.
“I guarantee if Sarah had known how much caffeine this was, she never would have touched it with a 10-foot pole.”
A Panera spokesperson at the time said: “We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family.
“At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter.”
House explodes in Virginia as police surround armed suspect inside
A house exploded as police were investigating reports of gunshots being fired from the property by a man.
Footage of the blast in the US showed a huge fireball shoot up into the air as the entire home went up in flames and collapsed, spraying debris all around.
Witnesses said the explosion shook nearby buildings and that they could hear it from miles away.
Officers had gone to the address in Arlington, Virginia, at about 4.45pm on Monday after neighbours said they heard the sound of a weapon being fired.
They later determined the shots came from a flare gun, Arlington County police spokesperson Ashley Savage told reporters.
As officers tried to serve a search warrant at the home, “the suspect inside the residence discharged several rounds”, she said.
“The house subsequently exploded.”
It happened at around 8.25pm as officers were trying to make contact with the person inside – who has not been named by police.
Officials have not been able to go into the home and could not confirm whether there were any deaths. The suspect was inside when the explosion occurred, Ms Savage said.
“At this point, we’re only aware of one individual who was inside the home,” she added.
Some police officers suffered minor injuries and no one needed to be taken to hospital.
Carla Rodriguez, of South Arlington, said she could hear the explosion more than two miles away.
“I actually thought a plane exploded,” she said.
Bob Maynes thought maybe a tree had fallen on his house when he heard the explosion.
“I was sitting in my living room watching television and the whole house shook,” he said.
“It wasn’t an earthquake kind of tremor, but the whole house shook.”
The cause of the blast is being investigated, Arlington Fire Department officials said.
FBI agents and federal fire investigators are at the scene and assisting in the investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.
The blaze was under control by 10.40pm.
Ex-US ambassador Manuel Rocha accused of being Cuban spy
A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been charged with secretly acting as a Cuban agent for “more than 40 years”.
Manuel Rocha, who was arrested at his Miami home on Friday, served as the top US diplomat to Bolivia between 2000 and 2002.
Prosecutors from the US Justice Department accuse him of promoting the Cuban government’s interests, Sky’s US partner NBC News reported.
This is not a crime unless it is done on US soil without registering with the department as a foreign lobbyist, the broadcaster added.
Rocha, 73, appeared in court on Monday and is alleged to have begun his “clandestine activity” on Cuba’s behalf in 1981 or earlier.
It was one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the US government by a foreign agent, department officials said.
He met Cuban intelligence operators, lied to US government officials about his travels and contacts and used a passport obtained through a false statement, prosecutors claimed in court documents filed in Florida.
The charges reflect a harsher approach by the department towards the prosecution of illicit foreign lobbying.
During his 25-year career as a US diplomat, Rocha served as ambassador to Bolivia and held another senior post – head of mission – in Argentina.
He worked for the US Interests Section in Havana in the mid-1990s, a time when the US lacked full diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro’s communist government.
Prosecutors claim Cuba’s notoriously sophisticated intelligence services first began using Rocha in 1981 when he first joined the US State Department.
They added that the alleged links continued well after he left government service more than two decades later.
The FBI learned about the relationship last year, it is alleged, and arranged a series of undercover meetings with an agent posing as a Cuban intelligence operator.
In one encounter in Miami last year, Rocha is alleged to have said: “I always told myself, ‘The only thing that can put everything we have done in danger is – is … someone’s betrayal, someone who may have met me, someone who may have known something at some point’.”
Born in Colombia, Rocha joined the US foreign service in 1981.
As ambassador to Bolivia, he warned Bolivians that if they voted for Evo Morales in the upcoming election, the US would cut off aid to the poor South American country.
Rocha also served in Italy, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and worked as a Latin America expert for the US National Security Council.
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