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The UK will host a summit of European leaders at Winston Churchill's birthplace on July 18

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gestures as he visits an apprentice training centre at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), in Coventry, England, Monday March 18, 2024. (Carl Recine/Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain will hold the next meeting of the European Political Community on July 18, the government announced Tuesday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will host leaders from about 50 countries at Blenheim Palace, an 18th-century country mansion northwest of London that was the birthplace of wartime leader Winston Churchill.

Sunak said that the gathering was “an important forum for cooperation across the whole of Europe on the issues that are affecting us all, threatening our security and prosperity.” He said the agenda would include support for Ukraine and “stopping the scourge of people smuggling and illegal migration.”

The meeting will be the fourth for the European Political Community, brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron. It was established in 2022 after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine shattered Europe’s sense of security. Previous summits have been in Czech capital Prague; Chisinau, Moldova; and Granada, Spain.

The forum gives Britain the chance to join a Europe-wide political gathering despite its departure from the European Union in 2020.

Sunak’s delay in naming a date for the gathering had fueled speculation that he planned to call a spring or summer election. He has to call a national vote in 2024, but has said it’s likely to be in the second half of the year.