Biden will host Irish PM Varadkar to affirm peace agreement

There will be a St Patrick's Day celebration and more serious discussions, the White House says

US President Joe Biden often refers to his Irish roots. EPA
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US President Joe Biden will host Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Friday, where they will express support for the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement and the recent deal between the UK and the EU 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 discuss support for Ukraine amid the continuing conflict with Russia, 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," Ms Jean-Pierre said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month struck a deal with the EU on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, saying it would pave the way for a new chapter in the UK's relationship with the bloc.

The deal seeks to resolve issues raised by the Northern Ireland protocol, a complex agreement that set trading rules for the British-ruled region, which London agreed to 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 EU.

A return to a hard border between the province and Ireland, an EU member, could have jeopardised the peace deal.

Mr Biden, who often speaks with pride of his Irish roots, had welcomed the agreement reached last month between the UK and the EU.

He described it as an "essential step" to ensuring that the peace from the Good Friday Agreement was preserved.

Updated: March 14, 2023, 9:42 PM