President Joe Biden said Monday that he plans to accept an invitation from U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to visit Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought a formal end to decades of conflict.
The president said it’s his “intention to go” to both Northern Ireland and Ireland after the British leader made the offer at a meeting in San Diego on Monday, according to a White House transcript.
“I know it’s something that’s very special and personal to you,” Sunak told Biden, who is partially of Irish descent. “We’d love to have you over.”
Signed on April 10, 1998, the Good Friday Agreement — also referred to as the Belfast Agreement — aimed to cease a violent, decadeslong conflict known as the Troubles between unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to stay part of the U.K., and nationalists, who hoped for it to become part of the Republic of Ireland, according to the BBC. Violence during the Troubles led to the deaths of more than 3,500 people over the span of 30 years, the BBC added.
“Twenty-five years? It seems like yesterday,” Biden said at Monday’s meeting.
Up until recently, it had been unclear whether the president would make the trip amid post-Brexit trade issues. But the Windsor Framework, proposed on Feb. 27, aims to ease tensions between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
It’s been 10 years since a U.S. president visited Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, with former President Barack Obama making the trip in 2013, CNN reported. Former President Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton, who were in the White House when the agreement was brokered, may also join the trip, according to CNN.
Biden also invited Sunak to visit Washington in June, according to the White House. Biden will host Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, on St. Patrick’s Day this Friday, to “reaffirm the close and historic partnership between the United States and Ireland and the extraordinary bonds between our people,” the White House said.