Boris Johnson and Joe Biden on Thursday tried to calm their differences over Northern Ireland in their first face-to-face meeting at the G7 Western leaders ’summit in Cornwall.
The “deep” concerns of the US president were conveyed directly to London earlier this month by America’s oldest diplomat in Britain, who warned the UK to stop igniting tensions in Ireland of the North new Brexit trading rules.
But the two leaders spoke warmly of their first meeting, with Johnson hailing discussions with Biden as “very good” and describing the U.S. administration as “a great breath of fresh air.” The Prime Minister added that there was “absolutely common ground” to protect peace in Northern Ireland.
Biden described the 20-minute meeting as “very productive” and said “we have affirmed the special relationship between our people and renewed our commitment”, adding that “it has not been told lightly”.
Downing Street said: “The leaders agreed that the EU and the UK had a responsibility to work together and find pragmatic solutions to enable smooth trade between Northern Ireland, Britain and the Republic. of Ireland “.
The EU is threatening trade sanctions if Johnson unilaterally breaks promises he made in relation to Northern Ireland, and the G7 host will face embarrassing clashes in the coming days with French leaders, Germany, Italy is the EU itself.
Yael Lempert, the U.S. charge d’affaires in London, had ordered Britain to make “unpopular compromises” if necessary to ease tensions over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol, part of the treaty. 2019 Brexit that seeks to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
According to a note from the British government seen by the Times, Lempert told Lord David Frost, Brexit minister, on 3 June that the UK was “igniting” tensions in Ireland and Europe with its rhetoric about certain controls in Northern Ireland ports.
The memorandum said the United States had “strongly urged” Britain to reach a “negotiated agreement”, even if it meant “unpopular compromises”. The British note from the meeting said Lempert had ordered Britain to keep things “cool”, suggesting that Britain had “inflamed the rhetoric”.
He added: “Lempert said the United States was increasingly concerned about the stalemate in implementing the protocol. This was undermining the trust of our two main allies.”
The revelation of the meeting confirmed the anxiety felt by Biden about the impasse of the UK and the EU over the border issue in Northern Ireland. Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, said the president had “deep” concerns about the future of the peace process in the region.
A senior administration official told the Financial Times that the United States had raised its concerns about Northern Ireland with the United Kingdom in a private message ahead of its summit. But the official said the discussion was not directed by the president and “has not been accentuated.”
The official added: “As with any ally, we have diplomatic talks on areas where we are concerned on many levels.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has scorned the UK for seeking to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol just months after the agreement.
“We can’t just decide to review in June what was finalized in December after months of work and negotiations,” Macron said at a news conference ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall and a planned meeting with Johnson. “This has been painfully discussed for years.”
He said: “I believe in treaties. I think I’m serious. Nothing is negotiable, everything should be applied. ”
Johnson claims that EU demands for controls on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland are too onerous and disrupt trade while igniting tensions in the pro-UK unionist community.
Earlier on Thursday, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, told a press conference in Brussels that she and European Council President Charles Michel would hold a meeting with Johnson in Cornwall to discuss the situation. She insisted the EU had “folded for years” to find a solution that would work for everyone in Northern Ireland.
The problem is a major distraction for Johnson ahead of the start of the summit and he announced the announcement of a new US-UK “Atlantic Charter”, an attempt to evoke US-UK cooperation in war and the 1941 charter signed by Churchill and Roosevelt that outlined a new world order.
Johnson and Biden met for the first time on a bridge overlooking St Ives Bay. The U.S. president told the prime minister he was “happy” to meet his new wife, Carrie Johnson. “I told the prime minister that we have something in common: we are both married above our station,” he said.
The Prime Minister replied: “I do not disagree with the President on this subject or on anything else.”
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