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Sunday, Oct 17, 2021

Boris Johnson says dealing with Joe Biden is ‘a breath of fresh air’

Boris Johnson says dealing with Joe Biden is ‘a breath of fresh air’

British prime minister Boris Johnson says working with President Joe Biden has been "a breath of fresh air," particularly on the issue of climate change.
British prime minister Boris Johnson says working with President Joe Biden has been "a breath of fresh air" compared to the previous administration when it comes to one issue in particular.

Johnson spoke to Savannah Guthrie about a range of topics in an exclusive interview on TODAY Tuesday ahead of his United Nations meetings and his first visit to the White House under Biden's presidency.

Asked about his close relationship with former President Donald Trump, Johnson said the U.K. prime minister and U.S. president are "fated to get along," which applies to Trump and now Biden.

"But what I will say about Joe Biden and dealing with the new American president, yes, it is a breath of fresh air in the sense of the some things on which we can really really work together, and you knew I was gonna bring it up — climate change — he’s great on that," Johnson said. "And he wants to cut CO². He wants to get to net zero by 2050, and he shares with me, a basic view that you can do this without penalizing the economy."

Trump openly mocked climate change, calling it "a hoax" and rolling back dozens of environmental rules and regulations.

Johnson also spoke out forcefully against the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but did not indicate how that affected his relationship with Trump.

"I think America stands for an ideal, and that ideal is that people should be able to choose their governments peacefully," he said. "One person, one vote, by election.

"I just felt that some of the scenes at the Capitol didn’t wholly correspond with that ideal."

He refused to say whether he felt Trump was to blame for inciting the riot.

"I have no knowledge of what happened, but what I think is that, let me put it this way, my admiration for American democracy is undimmed by the whole thing," he said.

Johnson also addressed the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which drew criticism from both sides of the aisle for being mismanaged. However, many lawmakers also acknowledged it was time to bring an end to a 20-year war.

"The U.K. owes a big debt to the U.S. military for the incredible professionalism and sacrifice that they showed at that airport, at the International Airport," Johnson said. "It was an amazing operation.

"It’s never going to be an easy thing to do to pull out of somewhere like Afghanistan after 20 years in a clean and straightforward way. But you can’t you can’t spend your whole time trying to run another country by proxy. I think that it was a massive logistical success what they did."

Johnson was aware that there was a chance the U.S.-backed government in Kabul could swiftly fall to the Taliban, which happened in a matter of days. He said he talked "frankly" with Biden about the operation.

"There was a spectrum of advice, a spectrum of predictions from the intelligence people, amongst which was the possibility that Kabul would collapse very fast and that the Taliban would would take over very fast," he said. "Of course you're going to look back on it with mixed feelings."

Many members of Congress have also expressed concern over the plight of women and girls in Afghanistan, whose advances under the previous government could be wiped out by the repressive Taliban regime.

"I agree, and it’s a terrible thing now to listen to some of the threats that we’re hearing to their potential, their freedom, their opportunities," Johnson said. "But what we’ve got to do is work together as the West, to say to the new authorities in Afghanistan, in Kabul, 'Look, you want our cash? We want to engage with you, but Afghanistan can't be a breeding ground for terror anymore.'"

In Johnson's mind, it was time for the U.S. to pull its military forces.

"America has been there for 20 years, and it’s a respectable argument to say that enough is enough," he said. "Could we have done it a bit differently? Maybe we could."
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