The United Kingdom is holding out hope of joining a North American trade pact after an exclusive free-trade agreement between London and Washington seemed unlikely following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.
Ahead of his visit to the United States, Johnson made no secret of wanting a free-trade deal, and pundits said one would go a long way toward justifying the UK's exit from the European Union.
But Biden played down the prospect during Tuesday's meeting and the focus shifted to possibility of the UK joining the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a deal negotiated by former US president Donald Trump to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement that he despised.
The BBC quoted Johnson as saying ahead of his 90-minute face-to-face meeting with Biden: "The Americans do negotiate very hard."
Before the meeting, Biden told reporters there would be "a little bit" of talk about trade, but that the two sides would "have to work that through".
The prime minister's office said after the meeting that the leaders "agreed to continue working toward a future, full free-trade agreement", the BBC reported.
The UK's environment secretary, George Eustice, explained to Sky News on Wednesday that securing a trade deal in the short term is "just not a priority for the US administration".
But he said: "We are not putting timescales on it."
US Congressman Brendan Boyle, who sits on the committee that has jurisdiction over US trade deals, told the BBC "I haven't heard one word about that" when asked about the UK joining the pact.
The Guardian newspaper said the leaders also talked about the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban returned to power in August after a hasty US withdrawal.
They agreed that all diplomatic and humanitarian methods should be used to stop the situation worsening, and called for international recognition of the Taliban government to be delayed until it proves it is respecting human rights.
Despite the appearance of having been left out of the decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Johnson refused to criticize Biden when quizzed by US broadcaster NBC.
"America has been there for 20 years and it's a respectable argument to say 'enough is enough'," he said. "Could we have done things differently? Perhaps we could."
The Financial Times said Biden and Johnson also talked at length about Northern Ireland, the UK province that has been severely impacted by the UK leaving the EU because of the land border it shares with bloc member the Republic of Ireland.
Biden said peace there, secured by the US-brokered Good Friday Agreement, must not be sacrificed because of Brexit.
"I would not at all like to see, nor I might add would many of my Republican colleagues like to see, a change in the Irish accords, the end result having a closed border in Ireland," he said.
And the leaders discussed the controversial new UK, US, and Australia security pact, known as AUKUS.
They also compared notes about the environment ahead of the COP26 climate summit, with Johnson praising the US' commitment to double its funding for developing countries to $11.4 billion (8.3 billion pounds) by 2024.