Biden stresses protecting Good Friday Agreement in first meeting with Truss
President Biden on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to the U.K.’s peace agreement with Northern Ireland in his first meeting with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who has sparked concern by backing a proposal that critics say would unwind parts of the deal.
“We are both committed to protecting the gains from the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, and I look forward to hearing what’s on your mind and how we can continue to cooperate,” Biden said during their bilateral meeting at the United National General Assembly in New York.
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended the Northern Ireland conflict, often called “The Troubles.” The U.K.’s exit from the European Union (EU), though, has sparked renewed concerns about the possibility of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, upsetting the agreement that has maintained peace for more than two decades.
Biden was expected to bring up the peace agreement with Truss, who has backed the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which critics say will violate international law by suspending parts of the Good Friday Agreement. It would end part of the Brexit deal that allows for goods to arrive in Northern Ireland from other parts of the U.K. to be checked through EU rules.
Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, shares a border with Ireland, which is part of the EU.
“Of course, I’m looking forward to discussing the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and how we make sure that’s upheld into the future,” Truss said to the president.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday said that Biden would discuss “in some detail” Truss’s stance on Northern Ireland and communicate that the Good Friday agreement must be protected.
Sullivan on Tuesday also said he expected that Biden and Truss would talk about “the economic relationship between the U.S. and the U.K.” when asked about a potential U.S.-U.K. trade deal and Truss’s comments earlier this week that one could be years away.
During the meeting in New York, the two leaders also spoke about the war in Ukraine and energy and economy security for Britain.
“We want to work more closely with the U.S., especially on energy security, on our economic security but also in reaching to fellow democracies around the world to make sure that democracies prevail and that we protect the freedom and future of our citizens,” Truss said.
Additionally, Truss thanked Biden for attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday.
“We’re very grateful for all the support that you’ve given us over what have been two very difficult weeks in the U.K.,” she said.