Ron DeSantis met with UK foreign secretary James Cleverly in London today as the US presidential hopeful nears the end of his world tour.
The firebrand conservative Florida governor has visited Japan, South Korea and Israel as he seeks to boost his foreign policy credentials before his expected campaign launch in 2024.
His bid would mean a possible run against Donald Trump to become the Republican choice in the race for the White House.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak, who is attending Tory conferences in Scotland and Wales, will not be meeting Mr DeSantis has been criticised by the LGBTQ community over the “don’t say gay” law banning discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools.
The governor was greeted by the prime ministers of Japan and South Korea earlier on his trip, but UK officials said it is not standard protocol for the PM to meet a visiting US governor.
His visit presents a diplomatic challenge to ministers, who will want to be accommodating but not risk provoking the ire of Mr Trump by being seen as taking sides in the contest.
Mr Cleverly discussed the "close and important relationship between the UK and Florida" with Mr DeSantis during his visit to the Foreign Office, officials said.
“This meeting was an opportunity to strengthen ties with the fourth-largest US state, and support bilateral economic cooperation that is already worth more than £5 billion a year,” a statement added.
Mr DeSantis also met with business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch during his trip to the capital.
The minister was seen leaving the Lloyd’s Building in London’s financial district following their discussions and ignored questions from reporters.
Mr DeSantis waved at reporters but also ignored their questions before being driven away in a black BMW.
His press secretary Bryan Griffin tweeted: "Today @GovRonDeSantis met with @KemiBadenoch , who has been branded by British media as the "Anti-woke darling of the right" (a badge of honor!) Two great conservative fighters on mission."
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