UK PM declares Macron 'a friend' after summit


[From left, French President Emmanuel Macron, Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Modovan President Maia Sandu participate in a media conference after a meeting of the European Political Community at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, Oct 6, 2022. The leaders of 44 European countries stretching from Iceland all the way to Turkey met Thursday in what many said was a united stand against Russia's war on Ukraine, as an energy crisis and high inflation fueled by the conflict wreak havoc on their economies. /PTI] London, Oct 7 : After making headlines when she declined to say whether Emmanuel Macron was a "friend or foe", UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has now declared the French President "a friend" as they announced plans to work together at a summit. On Thursday, leaders from the European Union (EU), the UK, Turkey, Norway and the Balkans met at the first European Political Community in Prague, during which they discussed energy, migration and security, with a particular focus on the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke via video link, reports the BBC. Following their summit, which was the first face-to-face meeting between Macron and Truss since the latter assumed office last month, the two leaders issued a joint statement in which they reaffirmed the strong and historic ties between the two countries. "They agreed to hold the next UK-France Summit in 2023 in France to take forward a renewed bilateral agenda," the statement said. Truss and Macron also discussed advancing bilateral cooperation in particular on energy and reaffirmed their belief that both renewable and nuclear energies are part of consistent strategies to achieve energy transition and strategic autonomy, says the statement. "They confirmed the full support of the UK and French Governments for the new nuclear power station at Sizewell and expect the relevant bodies to finalise arrangements in the coming month." The leaders further committed to advance and increase UK-France civil-nuclear cooperation, including on innovation, infrastructure development and workforce skills, ahead of next year's UK-France Summit. They agreed to deepen cooperation on illegal migration within the bounds of international law, to tackle criminal groups trafficking people across Europe, ending in dangerous journeys across the Channel. Truss and Macron also "underlined their determination to provide all necessary support to Ukraine for as long as it takes to restore Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, to resist Russian aggression, and to hold Russia to account for its actions". The development comes as the two countries have clashed over several issues, including migrant boat crossings in the Channel; a military pact between Britain, the US and Australia; and Brexit measures involving Northern Ireland. While Truss was campaigning in the Conservative leadership race, she created controversy by saying that "jury was still out" on the French President, adding she would be judging him on "deeds not words". /IANS


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