Truss tries to assure Biden of NI protocol at New York meeting


iz Truss worked to end the feud over the Northern Ireland Protocol within six months, while trying to reassure Joe Biden that she is committed to maintaining the peace process.

The prime minister held her first meeting with the US president in New York on Wednesday, after meeting behind closed doors with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.

Ms Truss was understood to be aiming to get the Northern Ireland Executive back to work by Easter’s 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

British diplomatic sources took advantage of a possible visit by Mr Biden on the occasion of the signing of the peace agreement with the island of Ireland to welcome him to the UK with a state visit.

Threats from the UK to nullify parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol after Brexit have sparked tensions between Britain and Washington.

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Mr Biden told the prime minister he was “looking forward to hearing what you think” about the protocol when they met at a United Nations summit.

While reporters were in the room, she told him: “Of course I look forward to discussing the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and how we ensure it is enforced in the future.”

But Downing Street said the leaders had only a “very brief discussion” of protocol in a 75-minute meeting slated to last an hour.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said the couple last spoke about the protocol after a team member of the president brought it up and said the US president was not seeking reassurance.

He characterized the tone of the meeting as “warm” and that they did not discuss a UK-US trade deal, with Ukraine instead dominating the discussions.

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The spokesman said Ms Truss and Ms von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, met for more than half an hour.

He was unable to answer questions about the meeting, including whether there had been a breakthrough or whether new ideas had been discussed between them, because he was not in the room.

The White House had expanded the protocol’s significance in talks with Mr Biden, who is vocally proud of his Irish heritage, ahead of the meeting.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan made it clear that Biden would discuss it “in some detail” with Ms. Truss.

The Prime Minister is pushing ahead with the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Act, which the EU and other critics say violates international law by suspending parts of the agreement.

There have also been suggestions that she could unilaterally activate Article 16 of the protocol to nullify parts of the agreement brokered as part of the Brexit divorce deal.

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But instead, No. 10 said Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and how the US can help with the UK’s energy security were much more prominent in the broad and “warm” discussions.

Mr Biden and Ms Truss met after the president sent a tweet just as the prime minister was discussing her economic policy, stating that he was “sick and tired of the trickle-down economy”.

“It never worked,” he says.

The comments underlined 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 suggest that Mr Biden criticized British policy, arguing that each country faces different economic challenges.



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