Joe Biden to visit UK in June but ‘no current plans’ for Ireland stop

US president to attend G7 in England and Nato summit in Brussels on first overseas trip

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says there is currently no plans for Joe Biden to visit Ireland as part of his upcoming trip to the UK and Belgium, his first foreign visit as US president. Video: C-Span

 

US president Joe Biden will make his first overseas trip in June, when he visits England and Brussels for a series of high-level international summits. However, there are currently no plans for the president to visit Ireland.

Mr Biden will attend the G7 summit of leaders in Cornwall taking place between June 11th and June 13th, travelling on to Brussels for a Nato summit and an EU-US leaders’ summit on June 14th.

Asked if a visit to Ireland would form part of the trip, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday: “There’s not currently a planned Ireland stop.”

However, she said that there could be additional components to the trip announced in due course.

“I announced the confirmed parts of his trip, at this point of time I don’t have any additional stops to add,” she said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin invited the president to visit Ireland in his first conversation with him after his election victory last November. Mr Biden, whose ancestors emigrated to the United States from Co Mayo and Louth, speaks often of his Irish roots and pride in his Irish-American heritage. He last visited in 2016, in the final year of his vice-presidency.

As well as his attendance at the G7 summit of leaders, Mr Biden will hold bilateral talks with British prime minister Boris Johnson while in England, according to the White House. It is understood that an engagement with Queen Elizabeth ahead of the Cornwall summit may be under consideration also.

In a statement, the administration said that the president’s first trip abroad “will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalising the transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests”.

Mr Biden’s decision to visit England and Brussels for his first overseas travel engagement contrasts with that of his predecessor Donald Trump, whose first visit was to Saudi Arabia.

Renewing ties

Unlike Mr Trump, who had a troubled relationship with the European Union and Nato, Mr Biden has spoken at length about renewing the transatlantic relationship and working closely with European allies.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she and European Council president Charles Michel looked forward to greeting Mr Biden in Brussels. “We have much to do together, from climate change to health, from trade and multilateralism to geopolitical challenges.”

Despite the improvement in relations between Brussels and Washington since Mr Biden’s inauguration, some differences remain, including around the issues of trade and policy on China.

The visit of the US president to Europe comes as the US and EU still have in place travel restrictions on citizens wishing to travel between the European Union and the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Asked if Mr Biden’s trip to Europe signalled that US authorities were considering lifting their travel regulations for US citizens, Ms Psaki said it was for the health authorities to decide.

“I can’t make predictions on that,” she said, stating that most Americans would view the president of the United States making a diplomatic trip on Air Force One differently than the question of whether it is safe for mass numbers to travel internationally.

Health and medical teams, she said, “will make an evaluation based on what is safe for the American public”.