Chinanews.com, April 4 -- On the occasion of the 13th anniversary of the signing of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement (the Belfast Agreement), US President Biden visited Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom from 25 to 11 local time.
Before leaving, Biden said that the first task of his trip was to "maintain peace" and end the protracted political stalemate caused by pro-British parties opposing post-Brexit trade rules. However, whether this trip can achieve the expected results has been questioned by many foreign media.
A short "coffee meeting" with the British Prime Minister
During this brief visit, Biden met with British Prime Minister Sunak, spoke at Auster University in Northern Ireland, supported the recent "Windsor Framework" agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, and urged the main political parties in the Northern Ireland parliament to get the power-sharing government back up and running as soon as possible.
On the evening of the 11th, Sunak greeted Biden at the airport in Belfast. On the 12th, the two held talks.
Sunak said after the talks that the UK-US relationship was "in good shape", describing the two countries as "very close partners" and saying the two men had discussions about "incredible economic opportunities" in Northern Ireland.
The British media believes that during Biden's trip, the exchange time between the two is too short. There are also U.S. officials who joke about "two lattes" rather than "bilateral" meetings. However, Sunak noted that the two will meet further in May and June.
Infographic: British Prime Minister Sunak.
Biden's speech at Auster University in Northern Ireland was aimed at strong support for the Windsor Framework, which he said would enable "dozens" of large US companies to invest heavily in Northern Ireland.
In his speech, he said, "The Windsor Framework addresses the realities of Brexit and is an important step towards ensuring that the hard-won peace, progress with the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement is preserved and consolidated... I believe the stability and predictability provided by this framework will encourage companies to invest more, invest heavily, in Northern Ireland. ”
In February 2023, the UK reached the Windsor Framework agreement with the EU. But since then, there has been disagreement within Sunak's Conservative Party over the framework. The focus of the disagreement is the "Stopmont brake" mechanism in the Windsor Framework, which gives the Northern Ireland parliament the power to refuse new EU laws to come into force in the region.
The mechanism was eventually approved by the British Parliament and the Windsor Framework was formally signed in March.
The Northern Ireland trade issue has been one of the most contentious Brexit issues. Previously, the UK was very dissatisfied with the "Northern Ireland Protocol" reached in the "Brexit" negotiations, and the relationship between the UK and the EU continued to decline. The "Windsor Framework" will replace the previous "Northern Ireland Protocol", and the main content includes that the UK's goods into Northern Ireland will be divided into red and green lanes and the "Stormont braking mechanism".
Foreign media: Biden is difficult to alleviate the deadlock on his own
Although Biden made "maintaining peace in Northern Ireland" and helping to ease his political paralysis the main task of the trip, Agence France-Presse said in the report that Biden "promotes the benefits of lasting peace and investment, but has faced fierce criticism from pro-British hardliners in Northern Ireland."
Infographic: US President Joe Biden. Photo by China News Agency reporter Sha Hanting
Since the 20s of the 60th century, there have been violent conflicts in Northern Ireland, and the focus has been on some people advocating Northern Ireland's separation from the United Kingdom and integration with Ireland. The Northern Ireland Peace Agreement reached in 1998, which largely ended 30 years of bloodshed in Northern Ireland. However, there is still some sporadic violence by small anti-peace groups.
The power-sharing mechanism of the Home Rule coalition government in Northern Ireland has so far not worked, and Biden has called for a political compromise in Northern Ireland.
In his speech in Northern Ireland, Biden congratulated the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement and stressed that maintaining the peace situation in Northern Ireland brought about by the agreement is a bipartisan priority of the United States.
The British "Guardian" analyzed that Biden is unlikely to alleviate the impasse alone. The "hard borders" that emerged within the UK after Brexit have undermined trust and balance. The newly agreed Windsor Framework could de-escalate the situation to some extent, but rebuilding trust would be a slow process.
Northern Ireland's pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) directly poured cold water on Biden. The party's leader, Geoffrey Donaldson, said the visit "will not change the political dynamics in Northern Ireland", while Sammy Wilson, a lawmaker from the party, denounced Biden as "anti-British".
Just before Biden's visit, Anglo-American security services blocked the streets of downtown Belfast to ensure safety. MI5 has also raised the terrorist threat level in Northern Ireland to "severe", meaning that an attack is highly likely to come with Biden's visit.
Just a day before Biden's visit to Northern Ireland, Reuters reported on a march against the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement in the Northern Ireland border city of Londonderry. Police also found four suspected tube bombs at a cemetery near the city.