US President Joe Biden has confirmed he plans to visit the north in his upcoming Irish visit.
Mr Biden said on Monday “it’s my intention to go to Northern Ireland and the Republic”, with the visit set to take place next month.
He was invited by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak to visit the north for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement at their meeting on Monday.
The leaders were due to meet in San Diego, California, alongside Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for defence talks.
Mr Rishi told the president: “I look forward to our conversations and also importantly, to invite you to Northern Ireland, which hopefully you will be able to do and so we can commemorate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. I know it’s something very special and personal to you. we’d love to have you over.”
Mr Biden said: “Twenty-five years? It seems like yesterday.”
Mr Sunak told reporters ahead of his trip that he was “keen” to see President Biden visit Northern Ireland next month.
US Secret Service agents have already visited Belfast in advance of a potential presidential visit.
It has been speculated that Mr Biden will also return to Ballina, Co Mayo, during his trip. He previously visited the town, home to his great-grandfather, in 2016 when he was vice-president.
The prime minister said the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement was a “very important milestone” that he would like to see President Biden celebrate in the north.
“Hopefully he will be able to make it, so that will be a nice way, we’ve got this very important milestone, to commemorate and celebrate – the 25th anniversary,” he said, adding that his Windsor Framework deal with the EU was a “positive step” in restoring the power-sharing institutions formed in the Agreement.
“What I’m concentrating on now is talking to everyone in Northern Ireland so we can find a positive way to move forward and get powersharing up and running – that’s my priority,” he added.
The US president joked about Mr Sunak’s home in Santa Monica as the pair met following the announcement of the Aukus submarine pact.
“First of all, I want to welcome you back to California. He’s a Stanford man, and he still has a home here in California,” he said.
“That’s why I’m being very nice to you, maybe you can invite me to your home in California. But all kidding aside, I think it’s an historic day for our countries.”
Following the talks, Mr Sunak told reporters: “It’s great that we’re going to see each other a lot over the next few months.
“I was pleased to accept the president’s invitation to visit him in DC in June.”
Source: Irish News