Biden says Sunak's ascent as UK leader is 'groundbreaking milestone'

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WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday called the expected naming of Rishi Sunak as Britain's next prime minister and first person of color to hold the job "a groundbreaking milestone."

Biden, speaking at a White House event to mark the Indian holiday of Diwali, said Sunak, who is also of Indian descent, was expected to be named prime minister on Tuesday after seeing King Charles.

Sunak, a 42-year-old multimillionaire former hedge fund boss won the race to lead the Conservative Party on Monday and will become the country's youngest leader in modern times - and its third in less than two months.

New leader of Britain's Conservative Party Rishi Sunak stands outside the party's headquarters in London, Britain, October 24, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

His family migrated to Britain from India in the 1960s, a period when many people from Britain's former colonies moved to the country to help it rebuild after World War Two.

"We've got news that Rishi Sunak is now the prime minister," Biden said. "He's expected to become the prime minister I think tomorrow when he goes to see the King. Pretty astounding. A groundbreaking milestone and it matters."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would call Sunak in coming days, noting that it was protocol for the U.S. president to wait to offer his congratulations until after an incoming British prime minister had met with the monarch and been formally invited to form a new government.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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