Biden welcomed Starmer's desire for closer EU ties, UK government says

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden told Britain's new Prime Minister Keir Starmer that he welcomed his desire for closer ties with European counterparts, according to a UK government statement on Thursday.

Starmer met Biden in the White House's Oval Office on Wednesday where the two men discussed UK and U.S. ties, the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, and England's soccer win in the semi-finals of Euro 2024.

"The President welcomed the prime minister's recent comments on establishing closer relationships with our European counterparts, as well as the UK's commitment to AUKUS," the British government said in a statement, referring to the security pact between Britain, the U.S. and Australia.

"They reflected that at a time when we face growing challenges across the world, we are at our strongest when we unite and work together."

Starmer was in Washington for the NATO summit, where he also met European leaders including Germany's Olaf Scholz.

Starmer has said he wants Britain to reset relations with the European Union to improve cooperation in areas such as security and trade, seeking to dampen the rancour that stemmed from Britain's 2016 referendum to leave the bloc.

However he has ruled out any move to rejoin the European Union's single market or customs union.

The two leaders also agreed they must do whatever it takes to support Ukraine in its war with Russia, and discussed their joint desire for a ceasefire in Gaza to get hostages out, aid in and make progress towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru and Kate Holton in London; Editing by Kim Coghill and Ros Russell)