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#AceNewsDesk – US President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton will both visit Northern Ireland for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Biden said it was his intention to also visit the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Clinton will be joined by his wife, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at an international conference at Queen’s University Belfast.
Details of Mr Biden’s visit are yet to be confirmed.
The peace deal was signed on 10 April 1998 and was designed to bring an end to three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.
‘We’d love to have you’
The current president said it was his intention to accept an invitation offered by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday.
The two leaders were at Point Loma naval base in California to unveil details of a nuclear submarine deal.
Mr Sunak said: “I look forward to our conversations and also importantly, to invite you to Northern Ireland, which hopefully you will be able to do and so we can commemorate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
“I know it’s something very special and personal to you, we’d love to have you over.”
Mr Clinton visited Northern Ireland three times during his presidency – firstly to support peace talks which eventually led to the agreement and later to support its implementation.
He also attended an event at Queen’s University to mark the 20th anniversary of the agreement in 2018.
I’ll be hosting a conference at @QUBelfast next month to reflect on 25 years of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
Civic leaders who have contributed to peace and reconciliation will join @BillClinton and me to take stock of this historic turning point. https://t.co/1Ym6pAkkNj— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 14, 2023
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Mrs Clinton is chancellor of the university.
She said she would be delighted to host her husband at the event, which runs from 17-19 April.
There has been speculation that Mr Biden will also attend.
‘Key partner for peace’
The deputy leader of Sinn Féin, Northern Ireland’s largest party, said she would be delighted to welcome Mr Biden. Michelle O’Neill hailed the US as a key partner for peace in Ireland.
“Such a visit demonstrates its continued commitment, which is deeply valued,” said Ms O’Neill, the would-be first minister in Northern Ireland’s absent executive.
The Democratic Unionist Party, Stormont’s second largest party, pulled out of the power-sharing agreement in February 2022 in protest against post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland known as the NI Protocol.
While DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson welcomed Mr Biden’s visit, he said progress on restoring power sharing would be made on the “basis of solid foundations”.
He said the new Windsor Framework deal to revise the protocol did not go far enough, saying that the UK government needed to give more clarification and the DUP would not be pressured into a decision on the Windsor Framework by “arbitrary timelines”.
Alliance Party assembly member Andrew Muir said Mr Biden’s visit was an important and positive opportunity for Northern Ireland in the “context of a restored and reformed assembly and executive”.
Social Democratic and Labour Party MP Claire Hanna said the planned visit by Mr Biden was good news.
“It reminds us that the Good Friday Agreement is an incredible achievement, even if there are parts that need refreshed,” she said.
Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar tweeted to say he was looking forward to discussing Mr Biden’s visit during his meeting with him later this week.
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