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Liz Truss to meet six visiting world leaders including Taoiseach ahead of Queen Elizabeth's funeral

British Prime Minister Liz Truss
Sophie Wingate, PA Political Correspondent

Liz Truss is to meet a number of world leaders including US President Joe Biden, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Canadian premier Justin Trudeau when they visit Britain for the Queen’s funeral.

Downing Street today detailed the head-to-heads confirmed so far for the British prime minister this weekend, ahead of the state funeral.

She will meet privately her counterparts from Australia and New Zealand, Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern, at the Government’s Chevening country residence on Saturday, a No 10 spokesperson said.

On Sunday, she will meet Mr Martin, Mr Trudeau, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Mr Biden at Downing Street.

Ms Truss has met Mr Biden as foreign secretary but this will be their first meeting since she became prime minister.

It will take place against a backdrop of disputes over the Northern Ireland Protocol and difficulties working towards a trade deal with the White House.

The protocol is also likely to come up when she speaks to Mr Martin amid strained relations between the two countries over post-Brexit arrangements.

The head-to-head with Mr Biden, who will attend the funeral with First Lady Jill Biden, would ease the pressure on Ms Truss’s visit to the UN General Assembly next week although No 10 did not rule out another bilateral there.

It is likely that the summit in New York will be where Ms Truss meets French President Emmanuel Macron, rather than during his visit to the UK.

Mr Macron confirmed his attendance at the funeral after offering his country’s condolences in a call to the King.

He tweeted about the “unbreakable” ties between France and the UK as he promised to “strengthen” the relationship between the UK and France by “following the path” of the late Queen.

A meeting between the pair could be a chance for Ms Truss to clear up where their relationship stands after she sparked controversy by saying the “jury’s out” over whether Mr Macron is a “friend or foe” during her campaign to become Tory leader.

Ms Truss and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are also understood to be arranging a meeting while both attend the UN summit, where they are expected to discuss the dispute between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Ms Truss is not expected to meet Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan, who is set to attend the state funeral on Monday instead of leader Xi Jinping.

China’s official delegation is expected to be barred from attending the Queen’s lying in state in Westminster Hall by the Commons Speaker, while seven MPs and peers remain sanctioned by Beijing.

No 10 earlier declined to describe the conversations with allies as formal bilateral meetings, and instead portrayed them as chats to offer condolences over the Queen’s death, during which politics is likely to come up.

Chevening will be used as one base for meetings rather than the Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers, which is said to be undergoing routine maintenance work after Boris Johnson’s exit.

As well as her head-to-heads with world leaders on Sunday, Ms Truss will have an audience with the King before attending his reception for visiting heads of state at Buckingham Palace.

Ms Ardern will meet the King, Prince of Wales and Prime Minister before the Queen’s funeral.

The New Zealand prime minister confirmed the meetings but disclosed minimal details after arriving in the UK, saying she will “share the sorrow that New Zealand has” with the new monarch.

“I’ll simply share the sorrow that New Zealand has and pass on our deepest condolences,” the visiting PM said at a press conference in London.

“At the end of the day, although this is a period of transition for him, he has also lost his beloved mother. For us and New Zealand, that’s first and foremost.”

Ms Ardern also said the Queen’s death and new King will be the “focus of conversation” when she and Ms Truss meet.

She said she will also likely discuss Ukraine and the UK’s free trade agreement with New Zealand.

“I am sure we will also transact our relationship as well, but it is all within the context of the week of mourning that the UK is currently in,” she said.

Around 500 dignitaries from around the world will head to London for the state funeral, in what is set to be one of the biggest logistical and diplomatic events in the UK in decades.

They will join members of the royal family, UK prime ministers past and present and key figures from public life at Westminster Abbey – which can hold about 2,000 people – at 11am on Monday.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who landed in Uzbekistan on Friday morning for a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin there this week, is not expected to come to the UK, with President Droupadi Murmu being dispatched instead.

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro are among those attending.

But Downing Street declined to confirm reports that Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife, will travel to the funeral.

King Felipe of Spain and his wife Queen Letizia are among the European royals who will attend.

Emperor Naruhito of Japan is also set to travel to London for what will be his first overseas trip since ascending the throne in 2019.

Local media said Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will attend in place of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Invitations to the Queen’s funeral have not been sent to Russia or Belarus against the backdrop of the invasion of Ukraine.

Taliban-ruled Afghanistan has also been excluded, as has Syria and Myanmar.

The seating plan, which could prove to be highly complicated due to the various protocol and political issues thrown up by a gathering of this size, is yet to be finalised.