Liz Truss did not discuss the Northern Ireland protocol or migrant crossings of the Channel during her meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street has said.
Number 10 said the prime minister had a “constructive” conversation lasting around half an hour with the French leader, but it focused on energy security rather than the two major points of contention.
The pair held their first bilateral meeting at the fringes of the United Nations summit in New York after Ms Truss caused controversy by refusing to say if the French leader was a “friend or foe” – instead saying “the jury’s out”.
In a softening of the tone on UK-France relations, a Number 10 spokesman said the two leaders “looked forward” to strengthening their partnership.
A spokesman said: “As our people face a difficult winter with huge uncertainty of energy supply and the cost of living, the Prime Minister and President Macron underscored the importance of working together to end reliance on Russian energy and strengthen energy security.
“We must continue to demonstrate to Putin that his economic blackmail over energy and food supplies will not succeed.”
Mr Macron reportedly welcomed their conversations on Ukraine and other European issues, saying: “I now believe in proof, in results.
“There is a will to re-engage, to move on and to show that we are allies and friends in a complex world.”
However, Ms Truss’s official spokesman confirmed they did not discuss the contentious post-Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland or migrant crossings in small boats.
Asked about Channel crossings, the spokesman insisted that the stalled Rwanda policy is the “long-term solution” to the problem.
On the protocol, the spokesman said: “We have the Bill that will progress through Parliament and we want to resolve this with the EU, this is not an issue that necessarily we believe can be solved through one single EU country.”
He would not say whether Ms Truss would raise the protocol with the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday.
But the White House has said that Joe Biden will raise it in his meeting with Ms Truss tomorrow.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US president would “encourage the UK and the European Union to work out a practical outcome that ensures there is no threat to the fundamental principles of the Good Friday agreement”.
Tomorrow’s meeting comes after President Biden criticised the economic policy Ms Truss is advocating – though Downing Street have stressed it was not aimed at her.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the US President said: “I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics. It has never worked.
“We’re building an economy from the bottom up and middle out.”
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Shortly before posting the tweet, Ms Truss admitted her tax cuts would disproportionately benefit the rich – but said she is willing to be an unpopular prime minister to bring in measures she believes will grow the economy.
While President Biden’s criticism was surely for a domestic audience, it underlined the differences between the two leaders’ stances just as Ms Truss says she wants to foster closer ties with international allies.
But Downing Street played down the remarks on Tuesday night.
Ms Truss’ spokesman said: “Any suggestion that it’s in some way a direct criticism of UK policy would be ludicrous.
“No two countries’ economies are structured in the same way, each have unique challenges.”