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Officials are defending Biden against accusations he is anti-British ahead of the Belfast speech


Officials were forced to defend President Joe Biden’s trip to Ireland on Wednesday, insisting it was work – not just fun – and deflecting accusations that he is anti-British during his brief visit to Northern Ireland.

He would start his day with a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before greeting five local party leaders for a speech at Ulster University.

But questions about his stance on Britain and Ireland, and who will pay for his son Hunter and sister Valerie to travel with him, dominated a morning briefing.

Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe at the National Security Council, was asked if the famed Irish-American president was anti-British, as pro-London unionist politicians claimed.

“I think the president’s record shows he is not anti-British,” she said.

Joe Biden was greeted by Rishi Sunak on the steps of Air Force One in Belfast on Tuesday night (pictured). They will talk on Wednesday morning

Biden disembarked Air Force One on the apron at RAF Aldergrove Airbase in County Antrim on Tuesday

Biden disembarked Air Force One on the apron at RAF Aldergrove Airbase in County Antrim on Tuesday

And with just 17 hours in Belfast before departing on a genealogical tour of Ireland, she was asked if this was a taxpayer-funded family reunion.

“I wouldn’t surprisingly dispute that characterization,” she said icily, before listing appointments with the British Prime Minister and official events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday-Belfast Agreement.

She was also forced to defend him against accusations from the province’s pro-London unionist politicians that he is anti-British.

“The UK remains one of our strongest and closest allies,” Sloat said.

And frankly it’s hard to think of an issue in the world that we don’t work closely with the British on and so this morning the president wanted the opportunity to talk to Prime Minister Sunak to start his day in this . in Belfast.”

Biden will congratulate the province and its leaders on 25 years of peace with a speech at Ulster University.

But he is expected not to try to resolve the political deadlock in the region.

The Northern Ireland government has not sat for almost a year amid a row over post-Brexit trade arrangements.

Although trade rules have been reformed, the Democratic Unionist Party refuses to go back to power-sharing institutions.

They are alert to any perceived slight.

Unionists view his Irish roots with suspicion and have made it clear that they will not tolerate his intervention in their local dispute.

As Ian Paisley Jr., of the hardline Democratic Unionist Party, put it on TalkTV, “the poor chap is unfortunately quite prone to blunders,” adding, “It would be like a Frenchman coming up to you and telling you what you England must do. .’

Biden is spotted in The Beast, his armored car

Biden is spotted in The Beast, his armored car

Where will Biden go on his four-day tour?

TUESDAY – Landing in Belfast

WEDNESDAY – Meet Rishi Sunak in Belfast and head to Ulster University to celebrate the Good Friday Agreement.

Biden travels to Dublin and then County Louth.

THURSDAY – Biden will hold separate meetings in Dublin with Irish President Michael Higgins and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before addressing Dáil Éireann, the Irish Parliament.

FRIDAY – Biden will visit County Mayo, research the family’s genealogy and give a speech on US-Ireland ties

The Northern Ireland government has been suspended since May over bickering over post-Brexit trade deals.

While the trade issue has been largely resolved, the DUP refuses to return to administration.

The standoff takes some of the shine off the visit, which is meant to mark 25 years of Belfast’s Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence and violence known as ‘the Troubles’ .

Sloat said she would not discuss what would come up in the meetings.

“I think in a broad sense and as I said, the president clearly supports the institutions,” she told reporters during a morning briefing.

“The president, like everyone else in Northern Ireland and the leader of the UK, is eager to see the institutions work.”

Biden arrived in Belfast in a major police operation, the largest in the province in the past 10 years.

Some 300 officers have been called up from elsewhere in the UK to bolster the numbers, at a total cost of £7 million (approximately $8.7 million).

Biden is making his first visit to Northern Ireland and is expected to congratulate the milestone and encourage the country’s leaders to work on economic and trade deals.

Unionists are already wary of any perceived contempt.

1681292707 54 Officials are defending Biden against accusations he is anti British ahead

Biden’s maternal line emigrated from Ireland during the Great Famine. The Blewitts left Co. Mayo and settled in Scranton, PA, while the Finnegans Co. left Louth and came to New York

Biden has already been roundly condemned by the DUP for being “extremely partisan” and “anti-British” after repeatedly trumpeting his Irish roots.

Instead, the president will issue at least two messages, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

“Congratulations on 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement, which has brought unprecedented peace and prosperity,” Kirby said. And that goes to the second goal, which is to talk about the importance of trying to work on trade and economic policy. that benefit all communities, as well as the United States.”

Biden previously wrote on Twitter: “25 years ago Northern Ireland’s leaders chose peace.

The Belfast-Good Friday deal ended decades of violence and brought stability. I look forward to celebrating the anniversary in Belfast and underlining the US’s commitment to keeping the peace and promoting prosperity.”

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