Biden hosts Irish leader at White House on St. Patrick’s Day


President Joe Biden welcomed Irish Taoiseach Leo Vardakar at the White House on Friday to mark St. Patrick's Day as the US leader lauded a recent post-Brexit accord that affects the island.

Biden said he and Vardakar would discuss the recently-brokered deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol, known as the Windsor framework, during their bilateral meeting at the White House.

"I've very much, very strongly supported the Windsor framework, which I know you do, too," the president said in the Oval Office, referring to Vardakar. "It's good to have you back especially on St. Patrick's Day."

The White House has previously voiced strongly support for the Windsor framework, saying it is a critical step towards ensuring stability in northern Ireland, which had for decades been the site of bitter fighting between Catholics seeking a united Ireland, and Protestants backed by London seeking to remain in union with the United Kingdom.

Fear had mounted that the violence could resume if a hard border would need to be erected between Ireland and the north over trade disputes stemming from the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

The Windsor framework seeks to resolve the issue by keeping Northern Ireland within the EU's trade rules while reducing inspections of some goods crossing the Irish Sea from the rest of the UK. Goods bound for Ireland from the UK will still be subject to customs processes while those remaining in the north will not face routine checks.

It still needs to be ratified, but Vardakar said the agreement has put the relevant parties in a "good place" to establish "an agreement that lasts, which is important for Northern Ireland and also important for British, Irish and European relations."

Biden further thanked Ireland for Dublin's support of Ukraine, saying it "means a great deal, speaking out against Russia's brutal aggression."

Vardakar thanked Biden for US leadership in forming international support for Ukraine, saying his government will "stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes."

Biden and Vardakar are slated to head to Capitol Hill after their Oval Office meeting, and will jointly take part in a St. Patrick's Day celebration Friday evening.

Source: Anadolu Agency