Johnson, Macron: UK-French partnership is crucial in overcoming pandemic

By Patricia Rodriguez

London, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron, on a lightning visit to London, said Thursday that the “alliance” between their two nations will be “crucial in overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.”

The French president on Thursday traveled to the United Kingdom for the commemoration of a crucial message in French history: the “Appel” radio broadcast sent in 1940 by Gen. Charles de Gaulle over the BBC for France to resist the Nazi occupation of Europe.

In addition to recalling that historic moment during a meeting at Johnson’s official residence at No. 10 Downing Street, the two men reviewed issues of common interest, including the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The two leaders agreed that “the partnership” between France and the UK “will be crucial in overcoming the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring the global recovery is green and sustainable,” an official spokesman confirmed regarding the meeting.

They also discussed the negotiations currently under way between the UK and the European Union to define their future trade relationship after Brexit, Britain’s controversial withdrawal from the EU.

On that subject, Johnson “welcomed the agreement to intensify talks in July and underlined that the UK does not believe it makes sense for there to be prolonged negotiations into the autumn,” the British PM said in his statement after meeting with Macron.

The French leader, meanwhile, told Johnson that he still supports striking a deal on Brexit, according to Reuters, citing a source in Macron’s administration.

The two men also recalled the sacrifice made by British and French civilians and troops in World War Two as well as the ongoing strength of the French-British relationship, which was ostensibly the reason for Macron’s visit to London during which he was exempt from the otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine the UK is imposing on all international visitors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

At No. 10 Downing Street, the two leaders viewed artifacts and documents from the World War Two era during which De Gaulle was in London and discussed his relationship with Britain’s then-prime minister, Winston Churchill.

Johnson presented Macron with a “collage” featuring a telegram sent by De Gaulle to Churchill on Victory in Europe Day, when the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, according to a spokesman.

That message included the response of the British leader as well as a photograph of the two men in Paris taken shortly after the Liberation.

Johnson also presented to Macron a miniature replica of the Land Rover Defender to accompany the model of De Gaulle’s car, a Simca Chambord, that adorns Macron’s office.

As part of the official agenda for Macron’s visit, the French leader was also received by Crown Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, at Clarence House, from where they traveled to view the statues of King George VI and his wife Elizabeth, the parents of Queen Elizabeth II, and the statue of De Gaulle.

In an emotional speech, Macron thanked the UK for its support during the war against the Nazis and said that 80 years ago, on June 18, 1940, the UK gave France its first weapon in that fight, the microphone of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to send the important “Appel” message to his countrymen on the continent after the Nazi occupation of France in early 1940.


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