British Prime Minister Liz Truss and US President Joe Biden hold a bilateral meeting during the 77th UN General Assembly in New York (Photo credit: Toby Melville/AP)
Washington and London assured today that they are “committed to protecting the rules” of the Northern Ireland peace agreement, an extremely sensitive topic in bilateral relations, associated with the division over the impact of Brexit on the country.
The guarantee of the United States and the United Kingdom was expressed during a meeting between US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Liz Truss, held on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly, which is taking place in New York since Tuesday and two days after they had already met in London.
Biden assured that the two countries will “protect” the rules of the peace agreement, while Truss said she was “eager” to analyze with Washington the agreement also known as “Good Friday”, signed in Belfast on April 10, 1998, by the British and Irish governments, and how it can be ensured that it is respected in the future.
The new British prime minister presented, when she was still head of UK diplomacy, a law that modifies the provisions regarding Northern Ireland after Brexit, implemented on January 31, 2020, which, according to Washington, would risk weakening peace. on the island.
When the United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020, one of the most delicate issues was how to respect the agreement that ended three decades of clashes between unionists (faithful to the British crown) and republicans (defenders of the reunification with the Republic of Ireland), as Northern Ireland now has a land border with a member state of the 27.
The answer found was the Northern Ireland protocol, a complement to the Brexit agreement that seeks to respect the Good Friday agreements by ensuring that goods entering that border will not be subject to inspection.
According to the Associated Press (AP) news agency, London hopes that the global goodwill towards the late Queen Elizabeth II, whose funeral took place on Monday, will help to smooth the problems in relations with the United States and other allies caused by the departure. of the UK from the EU.
Washington, the AP continues, is particularly “concerned” that Brexit has created friction on the basis of the peace agreement.
Truss described the relationship with the United States and the United Kingdom as one of “firm allies”, however avoiding referring to the transatlantic partnership as a “special relationship”, and also avoiding the language used by his predecessors, which goes back to Winston Churchill.
In his response, Biden reinforced the idea that the United Kingdom is the “closest ally of the United States in the world”.
However, writes the AP, Truss, who took office on the 6th of this month, two days before Elizabeth II’s death, faces skepticism from many US diplomats and politicians about Brexit.
Truss was Commerce and then Foreign Minister to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Brexit advocate who plunged relations with the 27 EU countries into a new era.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with an EU member state (Republic of Ireland) and Brexit has brought new customs and trade rules.
The issue eventually triggered a political crisis for the national unity government in Belfast, with pro-British unionist politicians refusing to form an executive with Irish nationalists.
In a bid to break the deadlock, Britain has announced legislation to suspend surveillance and rip up part of the legally binding Brexit treaty with the EU, a move that angered the European bloc and alarmed Washington.
In this regard, Biden, who was particularly interested in the subject, as he is of Irish descent, appealed to neither party to undermine the Belfast agreement, in which the United States played a key role in the negotiation.
Several pro-Brexit British politicians promised that any loss of trade with the EU would be “easily replaced” by greater exchanges promoted through free trade agreements with other countries, not least the United States.
Truss, however, was already this week forced to admit that the long-sought free trade agreement with the United States will not be possible “in the short to medium term”, in part because of opposition in the Biden administration and Congress.
“Currently, we are not negotiating a trade agreement with the United States. In fact, the United States is not negotiating a trade agreement with anyone right now. But we are open to negotiating a trade agreement when the [Biden] administration decides that it is what you want to do,” Truss said today at a meeting with business leaders in New York.
Source: With Agencies