Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak to discuss Northern Ireland and Ukraine

Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden are set to hold a brief meeting in Belfast on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are not expected to discuss a free trade agreement during their meeting in Northern Ireland on Wednesday morning, it has been indicated.

It will be the third in-person meeting between the two leaders.

In a briefing to journalists, Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe at the US National Security Council, said the focus of the meeting will be Northern Ireland, as well as touching on the war in Ukraine.

"I don't anticipate that the two leaders are going to be talking about a free trade agreement on this trip ... I think their conversation is going to focus primarily on the situation in Northern Ireland given that that's where they're meeting, as well as the chance to touch base on Ukraine and some other issues," she said.

Ms Sloat said the two leaders had the opportunity to touch briefly on economic issues when they met in San Diego, a conversation which she said will be "furthered and deepened" when they meet in Washington in June.

"We're continually looking for ways to engage with the UK on a whole range of economic issues," she added.

President Biden is also set to meet with the five largest political parties in Northern Ireland later during his visit to the Ulster University campus in Belfast.

He will meet with the party leaders, but it is not expected to be a formal sit-down group meeting.

When asked at a media briefing what the president's strategy will be to encourage the DUP to end its current Stormont Assembly boycott, Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe at the US National Security Council, said the president would like to see the devolved institutions back up and running, but really the main focus of his visit is to mark the anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

"The main message of the president to all parties, to all people of Northern Ireland, is to reaffirm support for the Good Friday Agreement, and obviously pillar one and the devolved institutions here in Northern Ireland are a fundamental part of the Good Friday Agreement, and so I think the presidents message - as he said on St Patrick's Day and I expect he will reaffirm today - is the United States' strong support for that, the belief that the people of Northern Ireland deserve to have a democratically elected power sharing representative governance," she said.

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