The first full day of his eight-day overseas tour got off to a wobbly start as a public row between the U.S. and Britain over trade inspections in Northern Ireland erupted into diplomatic view – just as Biden was preparing to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The two leaders wanted the day to be focused on their renewal of the long Atlantic Charter, which codifies the 80 years historical alliance of the West. Instead, a British news story that the U.S.'s top diplomat in the UK delivered a pointed rebuke over how Johnson's government handled Brexit in Northern Ireland hung over the meeting.
At issue is the Biden administration's concern with the treatment of Brexit negotiations with the E.U. by the U.K. On border inspections between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could test the troubled border and destabilize the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. This agreement ended three decades of fighting in Northern Ireland between largely Catholic nationalists who want to stay with the U.K. and Protestant unionists wanting to be part of the Republic of Ireland.
The message carried by U.S. Charg d'Affaires Yael Lempert before Biden's arrival in the U.K. was not a dmarche or formal diplomatic rebuke from Biden, according to a White House official, but a laid out of longstanding concerns in the US. Biden says he wants to ensure Brexit trade negotiations between the U.K. and the E.U. Do not threaten the Good Friday Agreement or the two-decades of progress stabilizing the border, and that Johnson planned to bring this up during his meeting with Biden.
However, Johnson did not go into his meeting with Biden that he wanted to be 'confrontational or adversarial', a senior administration told reporters before the two leaders met. Biden came simply to communicate what he believes in Northern Ireland the United States puts on by placing that priority, about the Priority Joe Biden places on that, the official said.
On June 10 the two leaders showed no sign of tension as they walked, each with their wives Mll Biden and Carrie Johnson in Carbis Bay at the southwestern tip of England. Minutes later, the two leaders walked into a meeting room overlooking the waters of St. Ives Bay and reviewed a display of original documents and photographs from the signing of the Atlantic Charter in August 1941.
When they sat down, a table made of a stump between them said Johnson's first time as President has visited his '' Great Country many times, but this was his first time as Biden, and that he was '' too '' to be there and '' to meet Johnson's wife. We have a common thing in common, said Biden, that we have two way above our station. Johnson played along. 'I'm not going to disagree with the President on this or indeed anything else, probably, either' said Johnson I think we are so generally agreed, Joe, that we could probably do this in public. Afterwards, Aides proceeded to firmly push reporters from the room away.
Biden frequently reflects on his critically held British roots and has sometimes been critical of Irish history on Ireland. During his first press conference as president in March, Biden had pointed words about British colonial rule there. Talking about how he understands why immigrants have to leave Ireland for new paths, Biden said his family migrated to the U.S. to get away from brutal British action in Britain. When my great-grandmother was on a coffin ship in the Irish Sea, the expectation was is he would live for three years on that ship to get into the United States of America? Biden said. But they left because of what the Brits had been doing and they were in real, real troubles.
At least in public, Biden seemed to be willing to put aside those sentiments in Carbis Bay. After their private 90 minute discussion, Biden said he and Johnson had a very productive meeting' that'revitalized' the Atlantic charter to address the key issues of the age, including climate change, cyber security and the global pandemic. 'We affirmed the special relationship — which is not meant lightly — the special relationship between our people, said Biden, with plans to take a leading role in helping other countries vaccinate their populations and contain coronavirus.
Johnson also lowed any tensions over Brexit and Northern Ireland. 'One thing we want to do — and that is to keep the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, Biden told reporters after talking to Johnson, and make sure that we keep the balance of the peace process running. That's absolutely common ground and I'm absolutely optimistic that we can do this.
On Friday and through the weekend, both leaders will attend the G-7 summit - which brings together seven of world's largest economies — India, South Korea and Australia — as well as the U.K. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — for the discussion of points of cooperation. When he is alive, the whole picture is the first one. This year's G7 summit is a major thrust of the challenge, and Biden has framed his efforts there as trying to demonstrate that the world's democracies can solve tough problems at a moment when autocratic governments have grown more powerful.