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Thursday, May 25, 2023
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Biden meets Sunak in Belfast: A cordial meeting with no trade talks

During a speech while on a visit to the UK, the US President addressed accusations of being overly supportive of Ireland and deflected criticism regarding his alleged partisan stance.

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On April 12, 2023, US President Joe Biden met with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during his official visit to the UK. The meeting marked the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

The meeting was reportedly friendly, with both leaders discussing a range of issues, including climate change, the global economic recovery from the pandemic, and regional security concerns. They also discussed the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been a source of tension between the UK and the EU.

No trade talks discussed

Despite speculation that the meeting would include discussions on a potential US-UK trade deal, no such talks were held. Instead, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the US-UK relationship and finding common ground on key issues. Biden was asked why he was not discussing a trade deal but he told reporters he is ‘here to listen.’

Sunak’s remark on US democracy

Read More: COVID vaccine now available for babies in UK

During the meeting, Sunak made a remark that gained media attention. He reportedly expressed his admiration for the resilience of American democracy, which has faced challenges in recent years. Sunak also reportedly praised Biden’s leadership in protecting democratic values and institutions.

The remark was widely interpreted as a subtle criticism of former US President Donald Trump, who had criticized the integrity of the US election system and was impeached twice during his presidency.

Criticism

Detractors criticized the meeting, saying that it was so brief that there was no time for even a serving of biscuits, let alone for a discussion on the US-UK relationship. Additionally, a US official referred to the meeting as a “bi-latte”. Many also criticized Biden for not staying in Northern Ireland despite having Irish roots.