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Canada Ottawa mum on whether Trudeau joining Biden’s G7 push on Northern Ireland peace

01:50  11 june  2021
01:50  11 june  2021 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Carbis Bay in Cornwall, with its golden beaches and azure blue ocean, is prime G 7 real estate. Think past summits, such as Taormina, Sicily in 2017 or Biarritz, France in 2019, but instead with the temperature turned down and rapacious seagulls scavenging for a free lunch.

Biden will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Cornwall, site of the G 7 summit, to reaffirm the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. Friday, June 11. Biden will attend the G 7 summit for three days starting on Friday, to work on U. S . policy priorities such as the economy and allied unity. Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday it was unclear whether the two leaders would hold a joint news conference after their talks.

The government isn't saying whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join U.S. President Joe Biden in emphasizing the need not to "imperil" the peace in Northern Ireland during meetings at the G7.

a person walking down a street next to a building: A woman walks past past graffiti with the words 'No Irish Sea Border' in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Politicians from Britain, Northern Ireland and the European Union are meeting to defuse post-Brexit trade tensions that have shaken Northern Ireland’s delicate political balance. British Cabinet minister Michael Gove, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and the leaders of Northern Ireland’s Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government will hold a video conference to discuss problems that have erupted barely a month after the U.K. made an economic split from the 27-nation EU. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) © Provided by Global News A woman walks past past graffiti with the words 'No Irish Sea Border' in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Politicians from Britain, Northern Ireland and the European Union are meeting to defuse post-Brexit trade tensions that have shaken Northern Ireland’s delicate political balance. British Cabinet minister Michael Gove, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and the leaders of Northern Ireland’s Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government will hold a video conference to discuss problems that have erupted barely a month after the U.K. made an economic split from the 27-nation EU. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The gathering comes as the U.K. is facing accusations of trying to skirt its Brexit commitment to put customs checks in place on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Britain., rather than try to make those checks be done along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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Biden ’ s affection for Ireland , where his ancestors are from, and scepticism about the wisdom of Brexit have hardly been disguised, but he has always accepted the British right to leave the EU. EU chief warns of 'crossroads' in Brexit dispute on Northern Ireland – video. Amid fears that the escalating crisis over Northern Ireland would develop into a trade war, Frost said there had been “no breakthroughs” over the Brexit checks but no “breakdowns” either after a two-hour meeting with Šefčovič in London.

Biden believes the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol is “critical” to ensuring that the Good Friday Agreement is protected, and the UK and the EU must continue negotiations to hammer out an acceptable solution, the adviser was quoted as saying. Earlier, Sullivan was cited by the BBC as saying And that is the message that President Biden will send when he is in Cornwall.” While dodging any comment on whether failure to resolve the Northern Ireland issue could jeopardise a US-UK trade deal, Sullivan added that “our concern runs very deep on the Northern Ireland issue”.

READ MORE: Violence continues in Northern Ireland over rising Brexit tensions

But while Biden's national security advisor told the BBC on Wednesday that the U.S. president plans to use the G7 forum to raise the issue with the U.K.'s Boris Johnson, the Canadian government would not say whether Trudeau plans to do the same.

Global News reached out to the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday asking whether Trudeau will raise the risks posed to the fragile peace in Northern Ireland with Johnson at the G7.

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That request was passed to political staff with the office of Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, who passed questions to bureaucrats at Global Affairs Canada.

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Biden and Johnson met in St. Ives, Cornwall, on Thursday, in a bilateral sit-down before the G 7 summit kicks off on Friday. Though the two had plenty to disagree on – the impact of Brexit on the fragile peace in Northern Ireland for example, they seemed to emerge from their meeting the best of friends. Johnson described dealing with Biden as “a breath of fresh air,” praising the Democrat’ s desire to bring back classic Western-led globalism, after Donald Trump’ s transactional ‘America First’ foregn policy.

Mr Biden has previously warned that the Good Friday Agreement must be upheld and peace not imperilled. But why is the US president so interested in what is going on thousands of miles away from his home turf? My colleague Adam Forrest has taken a look Boris Johnson and Joe Biden traded pleasantries on Thursday as the US president arrived in Cornwall for the start of a G 7 summit. With the cameras rolling ahead of a potentially difficult meeting over Brexit, the prime minister told his US counterpart that “everyone” is “absolutely thrilled to see you”.

"Canada is concerned about the recent violence in Northern Ireland. Canadians helped support the establishment of the Good Friday Agreement, and Canada has consistently worked to support the peace process," said a spokesperson for the department.

"We encourage the U.K. and the EU, in the context of their post-Brexit relationship, to continue to work together to ensure the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and that the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement is preserved."

Garneau tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken with his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, on the same day about "global cooperation and priorities of mutual interest to our countries, including support for media freedom and human rights, regional issues and the benefits of CETA."

The department did not provide a readout of that conversation but confirmed Garneau and Coveney did discuss North Ireland, stating: "Minister Garneau reiterated Canada’s strong support for the peace process and preserving the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement, including in the context of Brexit."

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US President Joe Biden is in the UK for talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on the eve of the G 7 Summit in Cornwall. It is the first time the two leaders have met face to face. The president is also expected to tell Boris Johnson the EU-UK row over post-Brexit trading in Northern Ireland must not affect the peace process. The G 7 leader's summit will begin on Friday and will focus on global coronavirus vaccinations and climate change. The UK is Mr Biden ' s first stop on an eight-day trip to Europe.

Officials wouldn't say whether Garneau raised the issue at the G7 foreign minister's meeting last month.

Eamonn McKee, Irish ambassador to Canada, described the conversation as "thorough."

'We're absolutely sure that Canada fully supports the agreement and its implementation, including in regards to the protocol," he told Global News, noting he wasn't surprised to see the U.S. administration voice its concerns for the Good Friday Agreement to be respected.

"Clearly, America is a valued partner of the U.K.," McKee said. "We would expect them to pay attention when [Biden] expresses his views on this matter in terms of how this is resolved."

McKee noted that Irish officials have gone to "extraordinary" lengths to be flexible with the U.K. and that this is not the first rough patch for officials to navigate in the relationship.

"We've been through difficult patches before. With a bit of goodwill and cooperation, we can go ahead."

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The Good Friday Agreement is the deal laying out terms for peace in Northern Ireland.

It established both the framework for power-sharing among the parties in Northern Ireland and the vow not to put a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south.

Maintaining that open border across the island of Ireland was a central point of concern in Brexit negotiations because while Ireland remains a member of the European Union, Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. and was removed from the EU along with England, Scotland and Wales by Brexit.

That means some EU standards such as those in place for quality checks on meat and dairy are no longer in place on goods made and shipped within the U.K. The Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit deal laid out an agreement that those checks would be done at Northern Irish ports rather than along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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Boris Johnson's government, though, has faced accusations of not fully implementing those checks and of putting the Good Friday Agreement at risk by pushing back at the EU to loosen those terms.

Jake Sullivan, national security advisor to Biden, said in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday that the U.S. president planned to emphasize the importance of the Northern Ireland Protocol at the G7.

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He described the protocol as "critical" to protecting the "spirit, promise and future" of the Good Friday Agreement, and said that any path forward must not "imperil" the agreement.

"Our concern runs very deep on the Northern Ireland issue and we want to make sure that the work the U.K., Ireland and the United States have all done in addition to the key parties in Northern Ireland that that work has got to be honoured and protected and respected as we go forward," he said. "That's the thing we're going to be most focused on."

McKee said he's confident people in Northern Ireland want to maintain peace and that any disruption as officials work out a path forward that respects the protocol won't erase that hard work.

"There are tensions and real fallout from these things, but ultimately, all of this comes from Brexit," he said. "We are trying to manage something that we just never predicted and couldn't envisage -- and so far, we've managed it," he added.

"This is a difficult one but once we have this resolved, I think people will see the benefits of the protocol for all sides. And we can get on with rebuilding trade relations, rebuilding economies, engaged in both COVID economic recovery and the things that really matter to people."

The West is moving to isolate China — and Canada could reap the rewards .
Over the past several days, western democracies have taken steps to constrain the Chinese Communist Party at the G7, NATO, Canada-EU and Biden-Putin summits. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be avoiding the fray, Canada could benefit from efforts to isolate China.But there was little the CCP could do to turn a tide that clearly has turned against it.

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