The mood music behind closed doors was positive and the words after the first meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson very warm.
For both men, this a relationship they want to work.
The UK prime minister embarking on “Global Britain” from his post-Brexit position needs the transatlantic relationship – and trade deal – more now than ever.
The US still our closest ally and oldest friend as tensions bubble between London and our European friends.
And for President Biden, who wants to use this set of summits – he travels to NATO, then an EU summit after the G7 – to press the case for liberal democracy and beat back Beijing and Moscow, this a chance to reassert not just the special relationship but the US’s role as global leader.
With it, a renewal of vows as the US and UK committed to a new version of the 1941 Atlantic Charter, drawn up by Churchill and Roosevelt, which forged the special relationship and set out a vision of the post-war world order leading to the creation of the United Nations and NATO.
And President Biden did not shy away from showing leadership in his first meeting with Mr Johnson, privately upbraiding the prime minister ahead of this first bilateral over his handling of Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit arrangements.
The president’s “deep” concerns were conveyed directly to London by the US’s most senior diplomat. The warning clear: stop inflaming tensions in Northern Ireland over new Brexit trading rules.
The genesis of the rebuke had been building from Ireland and from the EU, suspicious that Lord David Frost is intent, in the words of one senior EU source, of killing off the Northern Ireland Protocol “by a thousand cuts through a war of attrition”.
Mr Biden, an Irish-American president, is alarmed that the dispute between Brussels and London over border checks – a treaty agreed by both the UK and EU during Brexit to protect the Good Friday Agreement and ensure no hard border on the island of Ireland – will imperil the peace process.
In public on Thursday, both sides downplayed the Northern Ireland questions – President Biden barely mentioning it in his statement after the bilateral meeting, while Mr Johnson said both sides were “in complete harmony” in working together to preserve peace in Northern Ireland.
The joint declaration and readout issued by the UK government after the meeting was studiously neutral, as the two sides recommitted the Good Friday Agreement, while “the leaders agreed that both the EU and the UK had a responsibility to work together to find solutions to allow unencumbered trade between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland”.
But the message has been heard loud and clear – and will be repeated later this weekend when the EU’s Ursula Von de Leyen gives a news conference.
It will also be raised in the UK’s trilateral meeting with EU leaders.
It was a warning that Brussels and Dublin wanted Mr Biden to deliver – while an amicable resolution will now be the first big test of the special relationship between these two men.