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Britain’s Foreign Secretary Visiting Washington at an Awkward Juncture

  • September 15, 2020

Mr. Raab, however, suggested that Britain would try to stake out a middle ground between the Trump administration’s hawkish stance on China and the more conciliatory approach of the European Union. Britain, he said, still sought a cooperative relationship with Beijing on issues like climate change.

“We don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion, and we don’t want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, that we slip into some kind of cold war standoff,” he said.

Mr. Raab, who as a young man volunteered on a kibbutz in Israel and worked later on the West Bank, said he was encouraged by the announcement that Israel would normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. He said the Palestinians needed to seize the moment to restart talks with Israel.

“It’s a great opportunity for them now, because annexation has been taken off the table for the foreseeable future,” Mr. Raab said.

One issue on which a Biden presidency might make life easier for Britain is Iran. It recently declined to support the Trump administration in its lonely bid to restore United Nations sanctions against the Iranians. “We were in the market for a resolution that could pass,” Mr. Raab said briskly.

Predictably, he steered clear of American politics in the interview.

Britain’s goal, he said, was to “add value” to the United States, pointing to a summit meeting it is organizing at the United Nations General Assembly on coronavirus vaccines and a multibillion-dollar aid project to ease a potential famine in war-torn Yemen.

“We’ve got not just water under the bridge with the U.S.,” Mr. Raab said. “This is a friendship that runs deep.”

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