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Biden commends EU, UK for compromise deal on Northern Ireland trade

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United States President Joe Biden has brought words of encouragement and offers of investment on his visit to Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the region’s Good Friday peace agreement.

After an informal meeting with Rishi Sunak, the US president expressed support for the British prime minister’s compromise deal with the EU on Northern Ireland trade arrangements.

“Your history is our history, and even more important your future is America’s future,” he said.

“Today Belfast is the beating heart of Northern Ireland and it’s poised to drive unprecedented economic opportunity investment from communities across the UK, across Ireland, and across the United States. The simple truth is that peace and economic opportunity go together”.

During a speech in Belfast, Biden expressed hope that Northern Ireland will “not go back” to an era of deadly violence that was capped by the Belfast Good Friday agreement.

Biden is in Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the US-brokered deal that brought peace to the region and largely ended decades of sectarian violence that killed 3,600 people. But a new political crisis has recently tested its strength.

“The accord is something that brings Washington together, it brings America together,” Biden said in a speech at Ulster University.

On his first presidential visit to Northern Ireland, Biden stressed that American investment can help fuel economic growth — especially if the fractious politicians in Belfast resolve a stalemate that has put their government on pause.

Biden’s speech navigated Northern Ireland’s complex political currents, referring to his British as well as Irish ancestry, and noting the contribution to the US of largely Protestant Ulster Scots as well as Irish Catholics like his own forebears.

Biden arrived in Northern Ireland on Tuesday evening when he was greeted at Belfast International Airport by Sunak.

Sunak said after the meeting that he and Biden had a “very good discussion” about investment in Northern Ireland, along with foreign policy issues.

He noted that he and Biden had met last month in California and that they’d be seeing each other again in May at a world leader summit in Japan, followed by Sunak’s White House visit in June.

“We’re very close partners and allies. We cooperate on a range of things”, Sunak said.

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