Biden will leave Northern Ireland on Wednesday for the Republic, where he will visit Dublin, Co Louth and Co Mayo…reports Asian Lite News
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to meet US President Joe Biden in Belfast, Northern Ireland next week when the US president flies in to take part in events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace accord.
Biden, who will arrive in Air Force One on Tuesday evening, is intensely proud of his Irish heritage and the US’s role in the peace accord. He will give a key address at Ulster University’s newly opened campus on Wednesday and will have a formal meeting with Sunak.
Sunak is expected to use the visit to drum up long-term investment for the nation.
A major policing operation costing around Pound 7 million and backed up by around 300 officers will be underway around the anniversary after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) warned of the potential of dissident republicans launching attacks.
MI5 recently raised the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Biden will leave Northern Ireland on Wednesday for the Republic, where he will visit Dublin, Co Louth and Co Mayo.
Meanwhile, Sunak on Sunday praised Northern Ireland’s landmark 1988 peace accord. He was 17 when the Good Friday Agreement was agreed, largely ending three decades of violence in the UK province.
In a statement released by Downing Street, Sunak said the signing of the Good Friday Agreement was an “incredible moment” in the UK’s history.
The agreement ended the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland which claimed more than 3,500 lives. “It was a powerfully rare example of people doing the previously unthinkable to create a better future for Northern Ireland,” the prime minister said.
“It is that promise of a better future that we offered to everyone in Northern Ireland that I will be thinking of first and foremost over the coming days. It is my responsibility as the prime minister of the United Kingdom to ensure we are making good on that promise.”
Sunak was “relentlessly focused” on delivering economic growth in Northern Ireland, which he said is crucial to improving living standards, the statement added.
Sunak will participate in a number of events next week to commemorate the signing on April 10, 1998, of the US-brokered peace accord, agreed between the governments in London and Dublin, and the Northern Irish political parties.
The pair will “undertake a programme of engagements”, including a bilateral meeting, Sunak’s Downing Street office said.
Notably, the US president’s visit comes amid a heightened terror threat in Northern Ireland, and with power-sharing in Stormont still on hold because of post-Brexit tensions.
The Good Friday Agreement – signed on April 10, 1998 – largely ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed that had convulsed Northern Ireland since the late 1960s.
However the anniversary has been overshadowed by a year-long boycott by Northern Ireland’s largest pro-British unionist party of the power-sharing devolved government central to the peace deal. The Democratic Unionist Party is angry about post-Brexit trade rules that treated the province differently to the rest of the UK.
In March, Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency increased the threat level in Northern Ireland from domestic terrorism to “severe” – meaning an attack is highly likely – though the move was not thought to be linked to the anniversary.
Biden clashed with the British government at times during Brexit talks, but has spoken in support of a recently agreed UK-EU deal to address some of the tensions caused by the original Brexit agreement.
Although that deal has so far failed to restore the devolved government in Northern Ireland, Sunak will seek to bolster his support for the province by announcing a summit later in the year to stimulate international investment.