(Bloomberg) -- UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wooed US business leaders and politicians as he engaged in baseball diplomacy the day before he’s to meet President Joe Biden at the White House.

Arriving late Tuesday, he began his American visit on Wednesday by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River in Virginia to mark the deep military ties between the UK and US. 

A tight schedule of meetings with congressional leaders followed before he appeared at an evening baseball game between the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Stepping out onto the field for a pregame ceremony that included the playing of the US and UK national anthems by military bands, he told Nats players of his upcoming meeting with the president, remarking “that’s pretty special.”

The ceremony unfolded as smoke from Canadian wildfires spread over much of the US, prompting air quality alerts in the Washington region and elsewhere.   

While Sunak’s spokesman had told reporters the idea of the prime minister throwing the first pitch had been “pitched” to 10 Downing Street, the premier himself told reporters traveling with him to Washington that “I wasn’t actually meant to ever do it.”

That honor instead went to Stuart Taylor, a British Army veteran who heads the Allied Forces Foundation.

The game, a day after the 79th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, has been designated the UK-US Friendship Day, and featured a flyover by British and American pilots of F/A 18 combat aircraft, a performance by the Royal Marine Corps of Drums and a color guard presentation by British and American armed forces.

Earlier: Sunak Seeks Biden’s Backing on AI After UK Left Out of Key Talks

After the ceremony, Sunak took to the stands to mingle with business executives and politicians.

“As you guys know, my sport is more cricket than baseball in any case,” he said on the flight from London. He added that when it comes to pitching – or bowling in cricket, he was more interested in who would replace the injured England player Jack Leach in the forthcoming Ashes series against Australia.

The prime minister has said the chief goal of his visit is to strengthen economic ties, bringing them to the level of military cooperation between the two longstanding allies. He’s seeking to drum up investment in Britain and ease trade frictions, even without the talks for a free trade agreement that British leaders have sought after the UK left the European Union. 

Biden has shown little enthusiasm for such an accord. This will be Sunak’s first visit to the White House as prime minister.

One thing Sunak does wish to highlight: a leadership role for the UK in the international regulation of artificial intelligence. That’s something he told reporters he planned to bring up with Biden on Thursday.

“What the right approach to regulation is, I’ll be talking to President Biden about that tomorrow,” he told the BBC. “The UK is well placed to lead and shape the conversation on this because we are very strong when it comes to AI.”

On Wednesday evening, his government announced the UK would “host the first major global summit on AI safety” in the autumn.

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