British Prime Minister hails Biden as “a great breath of fresh air”
* Biden meets Johnson in England before G7
* Biden is “a big breath of fresh air” – Johnson
* United States concerned about Northern Ireland
* Jill Biden brings “LOVE” on her jacket (redesign of title and lead)
By Steve Holland and Guy Faulconbridge
CARBIS BAY, England, June 10 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday hailed US President Joe Biden as “a great breath of fresh air”, and praised his determination to work with his allies on important global issues ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to security.
Johnson did not draw an explicit parallel between Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump after talks with the Democratic president in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay on the eve of a Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies summit.
But his comments made it clear that Biden took a much more multilateral approach to the talks than Trump, whose worldview has at times shocked, angered and baffled many of Washington’s European allies.
“It’s a big breath of fresh air,” Johnson said of a meeting that lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.
“It was a long, long and good session. We covered a wide range of topics,” he said. “It’s new, it’s interesting and we are working very hard together.”
The two leaders appeared relaxed as they took in the views of the Atlantic alongside their wives, Jill Biden wearing a jacket embroidered with the word “LOVE”.
“It’s a great start,” she said.
Although Johnson said the talks were ‘brilliant’, Biden raised serious concerns over a dispute between Britain and the European Union which he said could threaten peace in Britain’s region of Northern Ireland. , which, after Britain left the EU, is on the UK border. with the block as it borders Ireland, an EU member state.
The two leaders did not have a joint briefing after the meeting: Johnson addressed the British media while Biden gave a speech on a US plan to donate half a billion vaccines to countries most poor.
Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, was keen to prevent difficult negotiations between Brussels and London that undermine a peace deal brokered by the United States in 1998 known as the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Britain that Biden had a “strong belief” in the peace deal and that any measure jeopardizing the agreement would not be welcome.
Yael Lempert, Britain’s top American diplomat, has made a move to London – a formal diplomatic reprimand – for “igniting” tensions, the Times newspaper reported.
Johnson has sought to downplay the differences with Washington.
“There is complete harmony on the need to continue, to find solutions and to ensure that we honor the Belfast Good Friday agreement,” said Johnson, one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign to leave. the EU.
When asked if Biden had expressed his concern very clearly over the situation in Northern Ireland, he replied: “No, he did not.
“America, the United States, Washington, the United Kingdom and the European Union have one thing that we absolutely all want to do,” Johnson said. “And this is to respect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and to ensure that we keep the balance of the peace process. It is absolutely common ground.”
The 1998 peace deal largely ended the “Troubles” – three decades of conflict between Irish Catholic nationalist activists and pro-British Protestant “loyalist” paramilitaries in which 3,600 people were killed.
Britain’s exit from the EU has severely tested the peace in Northern Ireland. The bloc of 27 countries wants to protect its markets, but a border in the Irish Sea separates the British province from the rest of the United Kingdom.
Although Britain officially left the EU in 2020, the two sides are still exchanging threats over the Brexit deal after London unilaterally delayed implementation of the North Irish clauses of the deal. Johnson’s Downing Street office said he and Biden had agreed that Britain and the EU “have a responsibility to work together and find pragmatic solutions to enable unhindered trade” between Northern Ireland , Great Britain and Ireland.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal, Padraic Halpin, John Chalmers; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Giles Elgood, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Mark Potter and Timothy Heritage)
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