Biden to host Irish PM Varadkar, affirm peace accords, White House says
By Kanishka Singh and Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will host Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Friday for a meeting where they will express support for the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement and the recent deal between Britain and the European Union on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, the White House said.
The leaders will meet in the White House for a St. Patrick's Day celebration and will also discuss support for Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
"They will reaffirm their steadfast support for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement as we approach its 25th anniversary and welcome the recent agreement between the UK and EU on the Windsor Framework as an important step in preserving the Agreement’s peace dividend," Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month struck a deal with the European Union on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, saying it would pave the way for a new chapter in London's relationship with the bloc.
The deal seeks to resolve issues raised by the Northern Ireland protocol, a complex agreement which set the trading rules for the British-ruled region that London agreed before it left the EU but later said were unworkable.
The issue of Northern Ireland has been one of the most contentious related to Britain's 2020 departure from the European Union. A return to a hard border between the province and Ireland, an EU member, could have jeopardised the peace deal.
Biden, who often speaks with pride of his Irish roots, had welcomed the agreement reached last month between Britain and the EU, and described it as an "essential step" to ensuring that the peace from the Good Friday Agreement was preserved.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Kanishka Singh; writing by Susan Heavey and Kanishka Singh; editing by Doina Chiacu and Angus MacSwan)