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Northern Ireland casts shadow over first Johnson-Biden meeting

Fri, 11th Jun 2021 05:56

(Alliance News) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday played down reported tensions with US President Joe Biden over the impact of Brexit on the fragile peace in Northern Ireland, after the pair met for their first face-to-face talks on the eve of the G7 summit.

The two leaders were all smiles as they posed for the media before 90 minutes of closed-door discussions, overshadowed by claims Biden had ordered a rebuke to London amid its row with the EU over new trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.

According to The Times, Washington's most senior diplomat in London, Yael Lempert, told Brexit Minister David Frost the UK government was "inflaming tensions in Ireland and Europe with its opposition to checks at ports in the province".

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan insisted the president – a proud Irish-American with distant family still in Ireland – would not make "threats or ultimatums" to Johnson.

But he said Biden was "rock solid" in the belief that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of violence over British rule in Northern Ireland must be protected.

Adding to the pressure on Johnson, EU leaders said they would also bring up the row when they meet the British leader on Saturday, as member state Ireland said it welcomed US support.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Johnson, who he is to meet on the sidelines of the G7 meeting, that "it is not serious to want to revisit, in the month of July, what we finalised after years of work on December". 

Before heading to the summit in southwest England, Macron added: "I believe in the power of treaties. I believe in seriousness. Nothing is renegotiable. Everything is applicable."

Johnson denied however that Biden raised alarm over Northern Ireland and insisted there was "absolutely common ground" on all sides in upholding the landmark peace accord.

"I'm optimistic we can do that," he told reporters in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

By Jerome Cartillier, Jitendra Joshi and Sebastian Smith

source: AFP

Copyright 2021 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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