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What is the NATO summit and why is Sir Keir Starmer going?



What is the NATO summit and why is Sir Keir Starmer going?

Just days into his premiership, Sir Keir Starmer is heading to the US for a meeting with NATO leaders.

We take a look at why he is taking the trip and what might happen when he is there.

Why is the prime minister going to Washington?

NATO – or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – regularly holds meetings where its 32 member countries, 30 from Europe and two in North America, come together to discuss the issues they are facing in the world.

This meeting in Washington is slightly different, however, as it is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the defensive alliance, which came to fruition in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The US Department of State said the meeting would celebrate “the most successful and enduring alliance in history and set the course for the Alliance’s evolution to meet future challenges”.

What are the issues being discussed?

Top of the agenda will be the ongoing war in Ukraine and the West’s support for Kyiv, with the grim framing of the latest Russian attack – this time on a children’s hospital, killing at least 31 people.

Ukrainian representatives will attend the meeting for a joint council with NATO, and further commitments to the cause from members are expected to be made.

Conflict in the Middle East is also likely to be raised, along with discussions around defence funding and partnerships.

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What will he hope to get out of the trip?

For Sir Keir, this is an early chance to make his mark on the world stage.

He will be hoping to have one-to-one meetings with key partners, including US President Joe Biden, as he seeks to reassure international counterparts of the UK’s support for Ukraine – having already announced a new supply deal for Kyiv.

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But it will also give the new prime minister a chance to look calm and in charge following the wave of UK leaders that have headed to NATO in recent years.

This could please both presidents and prime ministers, as well as voters at home.

Will there be any difference in approach compared with the last government?

Consistency will be key for Sir Keir.

As we mentioned, it will be about showing the UK remains committed to NATO and to supporting Ukraine, no matter the change in government.

The prime minister has already held calls with numerous world leaders, and met many of them during his time as leader of the opposition.

But this face-to-face, with the keys to Downing Street in his pocket, will be the time to prove it.

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