Biden to meet Sunak as pressure mounts on PM over Northern Ireland protocol | North Ireland

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Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak will meet face to face for the first time on Wednesday as US diplomats step up pressure to agree a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol by next year’s anniversary.

The pair will meet at the G20 summit in Bali where Ukraine and the protocol are expected to be on the agenda, as well as a possible bilateral gas deal.

Biden has announced he will visit Northern Ireland for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next spring. In a phone call between the leaders when Sunak took office, the White House said Biden spoke about “the need to maintain momentum to reach a negotiated agreement.”

Last week the government said elections for the Northern Irish assembly in Stormont could be postponed until April to give talks between the UK and EU over controversial Brexit trade deals a chance.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said he will introduce legislation to delay the date he must call an election by six weeks, with a further six weeks if necessary.

The prime minister is also expected to have individual talks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, India’s Narendra Modi and Australia’s Anthony Albanese.

Sunak will arrive in Indonesia on Monday night for the summit, which was overshadowed by Russia’s presence, although Vladimir Putin has pulled out.

Officials said there was only a limited prospect of agreement on a communiqué between the leaders due to Russia’s presence, even on issues such as inflation and energy which have been affected by the war in Ukraine.

Number 10 said Sunak would use his first intervention at the G20 to address the war in Ukraine and condemn Russia in the presence of Sergei Lavrov. The veteran Russian foreign minister staged a walkout at a previous ministers’ meeting.

The prime minister will also present a five-point plan for the global economy in panel discussions which will also form part of the underpinnings of the autumn statement, Downing Street said.

He will say support is still needed for the most vulnerable – including international aid – but signal the end of more generalized support for middle-income families struggling with the cost of living, including on bills energy or mortgages.

“Dealing with the biggest economic crisis of a decade will require a concerted effort from the world’s biggest economies – these are not problems we can solve alone,” Sunak said before leaving for Indonesia. “At the G20, leaders must step up their efforts to correct the weaknesses in the international economic system that Putin has exploited for years.”


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