Joe Biden has issued a statement pledging to affirm his “special relationship” with Britain when he meets Boris Johnson at this week’s G7 summit in the UK and discuss matters including the impasse in Northern Ireland.
In an article for the Washington Post published on Sunday before his first foreign travel trip as president, Biden wrote: “In the United Kingdom, after meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to affirm the special relationship between our nations, I will participate in the G7 summit.
“This group of leading democracies and economies has not met in person in two years due to the coronavirus. Ending this pandemic, improving health security for all nations and driving a robust, inclusive global economic recovery will be our top priorities.”
Biden added that he will use his time during the summit to realise “America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners”, and “rally the world’s democracies” against the most significant threats of the world, including the pandemic and climate change.
The US president is also reportedly expected to speak to Johnson about current disagreements over the Brexit deal, expressing support for its Northern Ireland protocol, which has met fierce opposition from unionists and loyalists who say it separates the region from the rest of the UK.
The Times reported that Biden is expected to tell Johnson that the US sees the protocol as a crucial part of maintaining long-term peace in Northern Ireland and, in particular, the Good Friday agreement, for which the US is a guarantor.
The paper cited sources saying that Biden is expected to warn the prime minister that a potential trade deal between the US and the UK will be damaged if the situation is not resolved, while also telling leaders in Brussels that he expects the EU to be more “flexible” and less “bureaucratic”.
Biden, who is of Irish descent, reaffirmed his support for the Good Friday agreement in March after tensions over the protocol led to violent rioting. The protocol was initially set up to prevent a hard land border in Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland inside the single market.
Biden and his wife, Jill, are due to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle on Sunday 13 June, Buckingham Palace announced earlier, to coincide with the end of the G7 summit.