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When is Joe Biden visiting the UK? President set to arrive this evening amid controversy over cluster bombs

The president will fly to London on Sunday evening under a cloud of opposition to his decision to give Ukraine cluster bombs

U.S President Joe Biden is set to fly into the UK this evening ahead of planned meetings with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III.

Biden will make the stop on his way to a Nato summit in Lithuania where there will be discussions on whether Ukraine will become a member.

But he arrives amid pushback from Britain and other allies over his decision to give Ukraine cluster bombs, which pose a grave danger to civilians, and are widely banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, signed by more than 120 countries – though not the US, Ukraine or Russia.

Mr Sunak said on Saturday that Britain was a signatory to the convention “which prohibits the production or use of cluster munitions and discourages their use”.

“We will continue to do our part to support Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion, but we’ve done that by providing heavy battle tanks and most recently long-range weapons, and hopefully all countries can continue to support Ukraine,” he told reporters in Selby, Yorkshire.

Both Russia and Ukraine have already deployed cluster munitions on the frontlines in eastern Ukraine – but it is the first time they will be supplied by the US to Ukraine.

Ahead of the visit, Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme she did not think it was “appropriate” to provide Ukraine with the widely-banned munitions. She said: “I am concerned about the use of cluster bombs, and it is not just the UK who has these concerns, other countries clearly do as well.

“I would like to find a way to properly arm Ukraine but without using these weapons which can have an impact, not just on the battlefield that time, on that day, but for months and years afterwards.

“That is something that causes me deep concern, and many other people as well.”

Lord Ricketts, who served as the UK’s first national security adviser, told the same programme there was wider discomfort within Nato, adding: “The allies are all very uncomfortable with this.

“We have all of us, apart from the Americans, signed up to the convention which means we don’t produce or stockpile or use these weapons. They are indiscriminate weapons, of course.

“I think we do owe it to the Ukrainians to understand why they need these weapons.

“This offensive that they have launched, there is a lot riding on it. If it stagnates, bogs down, the risk is this war will just continue.”

He added: “It is a hard choice of the kind that countries have to make in wartime. I am uncomfortable with it, yes, I wish it wasn’t being done, but I think we can understand why they are doing it.”

Mr Biden had earlier defended the “very difficult decision” to provide the cluster munitions, saying that Ukraine was running out of weapons.

He is scheduled to fly into London this evening and on Monday will hold talks with Mr Sunak at 10 Downing Street, before heading to Windsor Castle to meet King Charles for the first time since the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September.

The White House said the trip was designed “to further strengthen the close relationship between our nations”, whereas Mr Sunak’s spokesperson said the talks would likely focus on Ukraine.

“As we face new and unprecedented challenges to our physical and economic security, our alliances are more important than ever, Mr Sunak said in a statement on Saturday.

Julie Norman, co-director of the Centre on US Politics at University College London, told the Associated Press the US is more “hesitant” about allowing Ukraine to become a member of the military alliance, compared to other allies.

In 2008, Nato leaders said that Ukraine would eventually become a member, but there has been no clear plan set out for when that will happen, despite calls from President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“There might be some closed-door discussions about where the UK is on that before going into the whole (Nato) meeting,” Ms Norman added.

She said that among the allies, the US and UK were the strongest backers of Kyiv, and that Britain had taken a lead on military commitments, nudging the Biden administration into “going further” on providing tanks and Ukraine F-16 fighter jets.

“I think in some ways that’s worked to Biden’s advantage as he’s gotten increased resistance at home from some wings of the Republican Party about not over-giving aid to Ukraine,” Ms Norman said. “The fact that the UK is pushing and leading on this gives Biden a bit of a nudge and a bit of a strong ally support in moving ahead.”

This will be Mr Biden’s sixth meeting with Mr Sunak since he became Prime Minister in October. There have been tensions between the two countries since Brexit and the US president has made no secret of his belief against it. However, the two leaders signed an “Atlantic declaration” in June, promising cooperation on matters such as AI and clean energy.

King Charles’ meeting with Mr Biden will likely touch on the environment and climate change – a subject Charles, 74, has campaigned on for decades.

With agencies.

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