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US President Biden arrives in Northern Ireland for peace deal anniversary

Belfast: US President Joe Biden arrived in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, starting a trip to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement -- the deal that ended some 30 years of civil conflict, reported The Hill.
He was greeted at the airport by United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He will spend about half a day in the city on Wednesday, holding talks with Sunak before going to Ulster University to mark the Good Friday accord anniversary. The president will also "engage" with the leaders of Northern Ireland's five main political parties but not as a group, the White House said.
Monday marked a quarter-century since the Good Friday Agreement, signed on that day in April 1998, ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland that killed 3,600 people.
The US played a crucial role 25 years ago in ending deadly bloodshed in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, is observing the milestone anniversary with a reunion of key players in the peace process along with Biden's visit.
Biden's visit, and the anniversary, come at a delicate time for Northern Ireland, as it grapples with the repercussions of Brexit on its borders and trade dealings, reported DW News.
Britain's exit from the European Union left Northern Ireland poised uneasily between the rest of Britain and EU member Ireland, which has upset a delicate political balance, including the power-sharing system set up by the peace accord, reported The Hill.
Deep divisions remain over the conflict's legacy, and UK authorities in March raised the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland to "severe," warning of IRA dissidents opposed to the peace process and set on attacks.
Youths threw gasoline bombs and set a police vehicle on fire during a dissident march in Londonderry on Monday, reported The Hill.
Meanwhile in February, the UK and the EU reached a new post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.
Dubbed the "Windsor Framework," the plan aims to scrap some checks on goods crossing from the rest of the UK into Northern Ireland, and give Northern Irish lawmakers a greater say over future EU-related rules.
However, it has yet to garner the needed endorsement at home from the pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), with tensions about the deal still high in Belfast. The party said Biden's visit would not pressure it to change course, reported The Hill.
Biden will spend four days on the trip in all, including appearances in Belfast, the capital and largest city in Northern Ireland; in Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, and in County Louth and County Mayo, on Ireland's East and West coasts, respectively. He will also address Ireland's Parliament.
Biden will hold separate meetings Thursday in Dublin with Irish President Michael Higgins and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar before the address to Parliament and a dinner banquet. Varadkar visited Biden in the Oval Office last month on St. Patrick's Day, reported The Hill.
The president will spend Friday, the final day of the trip, in County Mayo, exploring family genealogy and giving a speech about ties between the US and Ireland in front of a 19th-century cathedral that the White House said was partly built using bricks supplied by his great-great-great-grandfather, Edward Blewitt, a brickmaker and civil engineer.
"The president is very much looking forward to that trip and to celebrating the deep historic ties that our two countries and our two people continue to share," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.
Ending decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, a period referred to as "the Troubles," meant balancing competing identities in the country, which remained in the United Kingdom when the rest of Ireland won independence a century ago.
Irish nationalists in the north -- most of them Catholic -- seek union with the Republic of Ireland, while largely Protestant unionists want to stay with the UK. (ANI)

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