Biden visits Ireland on anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

US President Joe Biden has said it is his “intention” to travel to Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement after receiving a formal invitation from British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The two leaders met at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California, after the US, Britain and Australia unveiled a decades-long project to supply Canberra with nuclear submarines to counter China.

Ahead of their bilateral meeting, Sunak hosted Biden in Northern Ireland to commemorate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

“I know it’s very special and personal to you. We would be delighted to welcome you,” said Sunak.

Biden, an Irish-American who spent decades in the US Senate as a member of the Legislature’s Foreign Relations Committee, replied: “Twenty-five years. It feels like yesterday, it feels like yesterday. Thanks anyway.”

When a reporter asked Biden if he was going to Northern Ireland, the President replied, “It is my intention to go to Northern Ireland and the Republic.”

Speaking to reporters over the weekend en route to San Diego, Sunak said he was “very keen” to invite Biden to the UK for the anniversary celebrations, which will center on several days of events at Queens University Belfast in mid-April.

“Hopefully he makes it,” said Sunak.

The Good Friday Agreement was signed on April 10, 1998, ending decades of conflict in Northern Ireland. The complex talks that led to the agreement were led by US Special Envoy George Mitchell.

More recently, the White House and lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties have insisted that post-Brexit trade deals would not violate the Good Friday Agreement.

When it was announced last month, Biden hailed the Windsor framework, which outlines ways to facilitate the functioning of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. Lawmakers described the deal as relieving a major source of tensions between Washington and London. The deal also raised hopes on both sides of the Atlantic for a revival in trade talks between the UK and the US.

Describing the Windsor framework as a “positive step” over the weekend, Sunak added, “I was very interested in solving some of the protocol’s challenges and . . . do the right thing for the people and companies there.”

https://www.ft.com/content/c7504a91-f60a-4f84-a188-0262c309999b Biden visits Ireland on anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

Brian Ashcraft

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