Biden, Truss discuss plans to iron out Northern Ireland divide at UN – National


US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Liz Truss declared themselves staunch allies on Wednesday as they tried to bridge a divide over Brexit’s impact on peace in Northern Ireland.

The leaders met at the United Nations two days after attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London, and Britain hopes global goodwill towards the late Queen will help ease difficulties in relations with the United States. United and other allies caused by the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The United States, in particular, fears that Brexit has shaken the foundations of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that ended 30 years of sectarian violence.

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At the end of the 75-minute meeting, Truss’ office said that « both the Prime Minister and President Biden have agreed that the priority must be to protect the Good Friday Agreement and preserve the gains of peace. in Northern Ireland ». But there was no indication of an agreement on how to proceed after a conversation that a senior US administration official described as « frank ».

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Biden has made it clear that the gains from the Good Friday Agreement are a matter of bipartisan importance in the United States _ and a matter of personal importance to him as president, said the official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. .

Biden, proudly Irish-American, took a particular interest in the issue. He warned that neither party should do anything to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, which the United States played a key role in brokering.

It seems unlikely that the irritant to transatlantic relations will disappear any time soon. British officials see April 2023, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, as a potential deadline for reaching a solution on Northern Ireland.

Truss spokesman Max Blain said Northern Ireland took up a small part of the meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York, which was dominated by the war in Ukraine and concerns over China’s growing global influence.

But Northern Ireland was the issue Biden chose to highlight in televised remarks at the start of the meeting, telling Truss: « I can’t wait to hear what you think, » Biden added.

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King Charles III visits Northern Ireland and pays tribute to the Queen’s role as peacemaker

King Charles III visits Northern Ireland and pays tribute to the Queen’s role as peacemaker – 13 September 2022

Analysts say there is some apprehension in the White House that undermining the Northern Ireland Protocol could plunge Europe into trade turmoil at a time when Biden is working mightily to keep the West united in the face of to Russia about its aggression against Ukraine.

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Truss thanked the President and First Lady Jill Biden for coming to London for the Queen’s funeral and described the United States and Britain as « steadfast allies ». But she avoided calling the transatlantic partnership a « special relationship », avoiding the language used by her predecessors since Winston Churchill.

Biden said Britain was « our closest ally in the world ».

Truss and Biden agree on Russia invading Ukraine, with Britain the largest military contributor to Ukraine after the US

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On China, Truss’ concerns about Beijing’s « growing assertiveness » echo Biden’s views. And both leaders share fears that China is overtaking Western democracies in courting the developing world.

The UK government said Truss and Biden « stressed the need to end over-reliance on authoritarian states in terms of our energy, technology and manufacturing supply chains » and promised to « redouble our efforts ». efforts » to reduce energy dependence on Russia.

But Truss, who took office on September 6, faces skepticism from many US diplomats and politicians about Brexit. Truss served as trade minister and foreign secretary under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Brexit champion who thrust relations with the EU’s 27 nations into a cold new era.

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Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with an EU member, and Brexit has brought new customs controls and new documents for Northern Ireland trade. The issue has turned into a political crisis for the power-sharing government in Belfast, with British Unionist politicians refusing to form a government with Irish nationalists because they see the checks as undermining Northern Ireland’s place United Kingdom.

Seeking to break the deadlock, Britain announced legislation to suspend checks and tear up part of its legally binding Brexit treaty with the EU – a move that has angered the bloc and raised alarm Washington.

Many pro-Brexit British politicians had promised that any loss of trade with the EU would be easily replaced by increased trade fostered by free trade agreements with other countries, such as the United States.

But Truss was forced to admit this week that a long-sought UK-US free trade deal would not happen ‘in the short to medium term’, in part because of opposition within the Biden administration and Congress.

Since Johnson announced in July that he would step down, Britain has tried to dispel some of the rancor over the Brexit dispute and toned down its language toward the EU. Truss said this week that her « preference is for a negotiated settlement », although she is clinging on to his threat to rewrite the Brexit divorce deal.

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Truss met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in New York on Wednesday, although there were no signs of a breakthrough.

© 2022 The Canadian Press


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