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President Biden’s aides are denying that he ordered the scolding of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government over Northern Ireland policy, as the leaders prepare to meet on Thursday when they will cover a number of regional hot button issues.
“He didn’t come here to give a lecture,” Biden aides told reporters on a press call ahead of the Biden-Johnson meeting, according to a report.
“It will not be controversial or adversarial,” the official said, the Daily Mail reported. The Post was not invited to join the call.
Biden will tell Johnson “what he has said publicly for a long time now,” the aide said.
A different official reportedly said that an account of discord in The Times of London was “wrong” and that “this discussion wasn’t directed by the president.” At issue was a recent dressing-down of Brexit Minister David Frost by top US diplomat Yael Lempert, who is the acting deputy ambassador in London.
Lempert allegedly told Frost that Johnson’s government was “inflaming” sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland by trying to avoid the imposition of intra-UK port checks for the region after decades of peace.
The UK departure from the European Union threatened the open borders of the island of Ireland. Some pro-EU politicians want a whole-island economic regime, which protestant unionists in Northern Ireland view as a step away from political union with the UK.
The Irish Catholic US president’s meeting with Johnson will be his first with a foreign leader on his first foreign trip abroad. He has repeatedly stressed that he wants to keep in place the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland.
“President Biden has been crystal clear about his rock-solid belief in the Good Friday Agreement as the foundation for peaceful coexistence in Northern Ireland,” Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One Wednesday.
“Any steps that imperil or undermine it will not be welcomed by the United States.”
Sullivan, who was previewing the meeting, said that the two leaders were also expected to discuss climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, creating an infrastructure financing program for developing countries and Afghanistan.
During their summit, Biden and Johnson will announce a new Atlantic Charter, the 1941 agreement setting out US-UK goals for the world after World War II, according to the prime minister’s office.
Reps for 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s office and residence, released a preview of the updated charter, which outlines eight areas which the two nations will collaborate on.
The new charter, a statement from Johnson’s office said, will recognize that “while the world is a very different place to 1941, the values the UK and US share remain the same.
“Just as our countries worked together to rebuild the world following the Second World War, so too will we apply our combined strength to the enormous challenges facing the planet today — from global defense and security to building back better from coronavirus to stopping climate change.”
The new agreement will address trade, travel and tech-related matters not covered in the original charter, signed by FDR and Winston Churchill.
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