LONDON, UK (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi sunak will meet Joe Biden next week in Northern Ireland when the U.S. President flies into the country to participate in events marking the 25th anniversary Good Friday Peace accord.
The United States, which helped broker the 1998 agreement, remains a powerful voice in Northern Ireland politics. They have sought to protect peace against the strains brought on by Britain's departure from the European Union.
Sunak will welcome Biden when Air Force One touches down on Tuesday night. This will be an important visit for both sides of Ireland's border, at a time when political uncertainty is high in Northern Ireland.
Sunak will host a gala on Wednesday night to celebrate the anniversary. His office released a press release with some details about his itinerary.
Biden, who is often proud of his Irish roots and will spend time in Ireland, including Dublin, his two ancestral homes, will visit.
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The Good Friday Agreement, signed on 10 April 1998, ended the three decades of sectarian violence that had ravaged Northern Ireland from the late 1960s.
The anniversary was overshadowed, however, by the year-long boycott of Northern Ireland's biggest pro-British party by the devolved power-sharing government that is central to the Peace Deal. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is upset about post-Brexit trading rules that treat the province differently than the rest of UK.
The British intelligence agency MI5 raised the threat level for Northern Ireland in March from "severe", meaning that an attack was highly likely. However, the move wasn't thought to have been linked to the anniversary.
Biden has clashed at times with the British government during Brexit negotiations, but has also spoken out in support of the recently agreed UK-EU agreement to alleviate some of the tensions created by the original Brexit deal.
Sunak, despite the fact that the deal so far has not restored the devolved Government in Northern Ireland will try to strengthen his support by announcing an international investment summit in the latter part of the year.