How a Diplomatic Spat Shook up Biden’s First Day in the U.K.

President Joe Biden’s first full day of his eight-day overseas tour got off to a wobbly start as a diplomatic row between the U.S. and U.K. over trade inspections in Northern Ireland erupted into public view—just as Biden was preparing to sit down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The two leaders wanted the day to be focused on their renewal of the 80-year-old Atlantic Charter that codifies the country’s long-standing alliance. Instead, a British news report that the U.S.’s top diplomat in the U.K. delivered a pointed rebuke over how Johnson’s government is handling Brexit in Northern Ireland hung over the meeting.
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At issue is the Biden Administration’s concern that the U.K.’s treatment of Brexit negotiations with the E.U. on border inspections between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could destabilize the troubled border and test the foundations of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. That agreement ended three decades of fighting in Northern Ireland between largely Protestant unionists who want to stay with the U.K. and Catholic nationalists wanting to be part of the Republic of Ireland.

The message delivered by the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Yael Lempert before Biden’s arrival in the U.K. was not a démarche, or formal diplomatic rebuke from Biden, as was reported, according to a White House official, but a laying out of long-standing U.S. concerns. White House officials said Biden wants to ensure that Brexit trade negotiations between the U.K. and the E.U. do not threaten the Good Friday Agreement or the two-decades of progress stabilizing the border, and that Biden planned to bring that up in his meeting with Johnson.

Biden did not, however, go into his meeting with Johnson planning to be “confrontational or adversarial,” a senior administration told reporters before the two leaders met. Biden “came merely to communicate what …read more

Source:: Time – Politics


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