A meeting between the First and deputy First Ministers and the President and Vice-President of the United States has been described as “extremely valuable”.
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill met President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris virtually, in lieu of the traditional St Patrick’s Day visit. It followed a similar meeting between the Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Joe Biden which took place earlier on Wednesday.
In the meeting, it is believed the Northern Ireland leaders discussed tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as driving economic recovery.
The First Minister Arlene Foster said the meeting was key in “further strengthening” Northern Ireland’s economic links with the United States.
“Investment will be a crucial part of our rejuvenating our economy, and as our largest international investor, there is huge potential in our relationship with the United States,” she said.
“And of course, we have much to offer, not least our highly skilled workforce, world class universities and a competitive cost environment.
“Our meeting with President Biden and Vice President Harris was extremely valuable.”
The deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill echoed the comments and also confirmed that the pair had extended an invitation for the US President to visit “in the not-too distant future.”
“I was honoured to meet with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris,” added Michelle O’Neill.
“I am really encouraged by the support they have shown for us, and their genuine interest in our progress and our people.
“The consistent backing of the US administration has been crucial in moving our society forward, not least through their unwavering support of the Good Friday Agreement. Our meeting with the President and Vice President was hugely beneficial.
“It provided a valuable opportunity to discuss how we can build on the progress we have made and continue working to protect the interests of all our people.
Great opportunity to meet with both @POTUS Joe Biden & @VP Kamala Harris today as we celebrate St Patrickâs Day across the globe.— Michelle OâNeill (@moneillsf) March 17, 2021
The island of Ireland & USA share strong economic, cultural & heritage bonds.
US political support for peace & no hard border remains unwavering.
“Our family, heritage, and economic links with the United States are incredibly important to us and the traditional St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington are a great opportunity to strengthen that bond, make new connections and promote what we have to offer.”
The meeting between the leaders comes after the US Senate recently brought forward a resolution calling for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, stating that any new post-Brexit US-UK trade deal should be in line with the 1998 peace deal.
Mr Biden, who has family roots in Ireland, previously stated any future trade accord between the US and the UK depended on respecting the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border.