UK’s Sunak hails N. Ireland peace ahead of Biden visit
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sunday praised Northern Ireland’s landmark 1988 peace accord, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to mark the 25th anniversary of its signing.
Sunak, 42 — who was just 17 when the Good Friday Agreement was agreed, largely ending three decades of violence in the UK province — said it was “an incredible moment in our nation’s history”.
“It was a powerfully rare example of people doing the previously unthinkable to create a better future for Northern Ireland,” the British leader added.
“It is that promise of a better future that we offered to everyone in Northern Ireland that I will be thinking of first and foremost over the coming days.”
Sunak will participate in a number of events next week to commemorate the signing on April 10, 1998, of the US-brokered peace accord, agreed between the governments in London and Dublin, and the Northern Irish political parties.
On Tuesday evening, he will welcome Biden to the province, meeting him on the tarmac as the US leader steps off Air Force One for his first visit there as president.
The pair will “undertake a programme of engagements”, including a bilateral meeting, Sunak’s Downing Street office said.
– ‘Remarkable progress’ –
The UK leader will attend a commemorative conference at Queen’s University in the capital, Belfast, and host a “special gala dinner” to mark the anniversary, it added.
Noting Washington “pivotal role” in the peace process, Sunak’s office said the US president’s visit would “celebrate Northern Ireland’s successes and encourage further long-term investment”.
Britain will also stage a “Northern Ireland Investment Summit” later this year to encourage inward investment and economic growth, Downing Street announced.
The gathering in Belfast on September 12-13 will focus on financial and professional services, life and health sciences, technology, green manufacturing and the creative services, it noted.
“The event is a key part of the UK’s overall programme to mark the remarkable progress in Northern Ireland over the last quarter century and will support our vision for a prosperous 25 years ahead,” Sunak’s office added.
Biden, who is Irish-American, will also travel to the neighbouring Republic of Ireland during his four-day visit, visiting the capital Dublin, County Louth and County Mayo, according to the White House.