Difficult start to new ‘special relationship’: Joe Biden sends ‘sincere’ message to Liz Truss about his ‘personal’ feelings over Brexit in Northern Ireland during talks at the UN – as PM signals they will stay until APRIL wants to resolve a standoff with the EU
- Joe Biden and Liz Truss had their first talks at the United Nations in New York last night
- The US President and Prime Minister had an “open” discussion over the Brexit dispute in Northern Ireland
- Ms Truss has signaled she wants to resolve the standoff with the EU by April
The new “special relationship” got off to a rocky start last night as Joe Biden sent a “sincere” message about his “personal” feelings in the Brexit row in Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister and the US President met for their first talks at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Aides said the discussions lasted 75 minutes, not the hour planned, and that there was a united front in Ukraine and the response to Russia.
However, leaders appear to have had an uncomfortable exchange over Northern Ireland, with US officials describing the talk as “open” – usually code that there was no agreement.
Mr. Biden is said to have stressed the “personal importance” he attaches to resolving the dispute over the province and protecting the Good Friday Agreement.
For her part, Ms. Truss updated the US President on her talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – and has signaled that she wants to settle the issues within six months.
The Prime Minister is aiming to get the Northern Ireland Executive back up and running in time for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement at Easter.
This could also coincide with a state visit by Mr Biden to the UK.
Liz Truss and US President Joe Biden sat down for initial talks at the UN General Assembly in New York
Mr. Biden and Ms. Truss spoke for 75 minutes when the meeting was scheduled for an hour
Threats by the UK to suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol after Brexit have fueled tensions between the UK and Washington.
Mr Biden told the prime minister he looked forward to hearing what you thought of the protocol when they met at a United Nations summit.
With the cameras still rolling, she told him: “Obviously I’m looking forward to speaking about the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and how we’re going to ensure it is respected in the future.”
Downing Street said leaders had only a “very brief discussion” on the protocol.
One of the President’s team brought it up at the end of the meeting, with No. 10 insisting that Mr. Biden was not seeking assurances.
He described the tone of the meeting as “warm” and that they were not discussing a UK-US trade deal, instead Ukraine was dominating the discussions.
A US official said Mr Biden made it clear that protecting the Good Friday Agreement was “a matter of bipartisan importance in the United States and a matter of personal importance to him as President”.
Downing Street said Ms Truss and Ms von der Leyen met “one on one” for more than half an hour.
The speaker was unable to answer questions about the meeting, including whether there had been a breakthrough or new ideas being discussed between them, since he was not in the room.
The White House had reinforced the importance protocol would play in talks with Mr Biden, who is vocally proud of his Irish heritage, ahead of the meeting.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made it clear that Mr Biden would discuss this “at length” with Ms Truss.
The leaders appear to have had an awkward exchange over Northern Ireland, with US officials describing the talk as “open” – usually code that there was no agreement
The Prime Minister is pushing ahead with the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol, which the EU and other critics say will break international law by suspending elements of the deal.
There have also been suggestions that she could unilaterally trigger Article 16 of the protocol to override parts of the agreement brokered as part of the Brexit divorce deal.
But instead, No. 10 said Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and how the US can help with Britain’s energy security were far more prominent in the wide-ranging and “heartfelt” discussions.
Mr Biden and Ms Truss met after the President tweeted as the PM spoke about her economic policy saying he was “sick and tired of the trickle down economy”.
“It’s never worked,” he said.
The comments underscored the differences between the two leaders’ positions, just as Ms Truss says she wants to foster closer ties with international allies.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said it was “ridiculous” to claim Mr Biden had criticized British policies, arguing that every country faces different economic challenges.