Rishi Sunak invites US President Joe Biden to Northern Ireland for 25 years of Good Friday Agreement
Joe Biden said he intends to visit Northern Ireland after being invited to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
The US president was speaking after Rishi Sunak formally invited him to make the trip to mark the 25th anniversary in April as the pair held talks in San Diego.
As the pair met in Point Loma naval base, Mr Biden said: ‘It’s my intention to go to Northern Ireland and the Republic.’
Mr Sunak told the president: ‘I look forward to our conversations and also importantly, to invite you to Northern Ireland, which hopefully you will be able to do and so we can commemorate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
‘I know it’s something very special and personal to you. we’d love to have you over.’
Mr Biden said: ‘Twenty-five years? It seems like yesterday.’
Joe Biden said he intends to visit Northern Ireland after being invited to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement
The US president was speaking after Rishi Sunak formally invited him to make the trip to mark the 25th anniversary in April as the pair held talks in San Diego
Following talks with US president Joe Biden in San Diego, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: ‘It’s great that we’re going to see each other a lot over the next few months.
‘I was pleased to accept the president’s invitation to visit him in DC in June.’
The Good Friday agreement was signed on April 10, 1998. It cemented Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, and set up a new government for the province, while allowing that it could join the Republic of Ireland if that was the wish of a majority.
It brought an end to 30 years of armed struggle against British rule.
Biden is among the American politicians who can claim a role in helping push through the deal. He was a a member of the Senate foreign relations committee which nudged the Clinton administration to deploy its political clout and broker the deal.
The US president joked about Mr Sunak’s home in Santa Monica as the pair met following the announcement of the Aukus submarine pact.
‘First of all, I want to welcome you back to California. He’s a Stanford man, and he still has a home here in California,’ he said.
‘That’s why I’m being very nice to you, maybe you can invite me to your home in California. But all kidding aside, I think it’s an historic day for our countries.’
Following the talks, Mr Sunak told reporters: ‘It’s great that we’re going to see each other a lot over the next few months. I was pleased to accept the president’s invitation to visit him in DC in June.’
His Irish heritage has been a frequent touchstone for his political speeches, and he has described how his family left their homeland ‘because of what the Brits were doing.’
Last year, on St. Patrick’s Day, he set out what his Irish heritage gave to him and other Irish emigrants.
‘Hope is what brought forth on the Emerald Isle a nation of poets and patriots, saints, scholars, artists, and engineers,’ he said at the White House.
‘Hope kept us looking toward the far horizon. It urges us over every obstacle. It tells us to try again when we fall short, to rise each time we fall.’
President Joe Biden hosted the traditional St Patrick’s Day shamrock presentation ceremony in the East Room of the White House least year, when he riffed on his Irish heritage
Biden last visited Ireland in an official capacity in 2016 as vice president. That visit included stops in Dublin, Mayo, and Louth — the capital plus the two counties of his ancestors.
And he has repeatedly told Irish politicians and relatives that he will be back as president.
Soon after he took office, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: ‘When I invited President Biden to Ireland, he just said, “Try and keep me out.” So it won’t be any lack of enthusiasm on his side.’
Rumors have repeatedly swirled through the Irish media that a presidential visit was coming.
And diplomats saw the 25th anniversary of the peace deal as the perfect moment.
The only stumbling block was a tussle between the UK and the EU over trade arrangements after Brexit.
In order to keep the border between northern and southern Ireland open—in line with the Good Friday Agreement— customs checks were imposed on goods traveling from the British mainland to Northern Ireland, placing a huge burden on businesses there.
The biggest pro-UK unionist party withdrew from power-sharing agreements in protest, causing the suspension of Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly.