Taoiseach to meet Johnson for Brexit talks at UN Climate Summit

World leaders heading to New York for UN’s Climate Action Summit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (R) and British prime minister Boris Johnson deliver a joint press conference at the Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland. File Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (R) and British prime minister Boris Johnson deliver a joint press conference at the Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland. File Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to meet UK prime minister Boris Johnson to discuss Brexit on Sunday in New York for the annual General Assembly where world leaders will also convene for the UN’s Climate Action Summit.

The meeting follows Tánaiste Simon Coveney’s warning that a “wide gap” remains between the UK and the EU on securing a new deal.

Mr Varadkar said and Mr Johnson exchanged messages on Thursday following on from their first bilateral meeting in Dublin last week.

Mr Johnson will also meet European Council president Donald Tusk, as he tries to reach an agreement ahead of the October 31st Brexit deadline.

His meeting with French president Mr Macron and German chancellor Mrs Merkel is being billed as an E3 meeting to discuss the attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

But a senior UK government official said: “I’m sure Brexit will come up.

“What this gives the PM an opportunity to do is talk to them at leader level about what some of our proposals are.

“At the same time we are under no illusions that there’s an awful lot of work to do.”

It is likely they will discuss the three “non-papers” the UK has shared with the bloc, focusing on the agrifood zone, customs issues and on manufactured goods.

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker buoyed hopes by insisting “we can have a deal”, but Tánaiste Simon Coveney said a “wide gap” remains between Mr Johnson and the bloc.

Mr Tusk will meet with Mr Varadkar and Mrs Merkel ahead of his talks with the UK prime minister.

‘Wider foreign policy issues’

Other “wider foreign policy” issues such as Iran and Syria will also be discussed, the official said.

Mr Johnson will also meet the US president, when he is expected to discuss Iran, Afghanistan and the climate crisis – a thorny subject for Mr Trump who has described it as a “hoax”.

Ahead of the assembly, Mr Johnson said he would be raising three “crucial issues”.

“First, how Britain can work with our European and American allies on peace and stability in the Middle East,” he said.

“Second, how science and new technologies can help the world deal with climate change and the threats to biodiversity.

“And third, how post-Brexit Britain will be a better place to invest in and live in.”

Mr Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, is also expected to attend the General Assembly, but the official stressed she was travelling for her own work with environmental group Oceana and not with the UK prime minister.

Her attendance will signal she has surmounted her visa difficulties after she was barred from visiting the US for reasons which remain unclear.

Other bilaterals anticipated for Mr Johnson are with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, King Abdullah II of Jordan and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres. –AP