US President-elect Joe Biden says he does not want to see a guarded border between Ireland and the United Kingdom, adding he has previously discussed the matter with the British and Irish prime ministers and other European leaders.
Biden had stressed the importance of protecting Northern Ireland’s peace deal in the Brexit process in a call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the month after Biden won the November 3 US election against President Donald Trump.
Johnson’s government is seeking a trade deal with the European Union but says it is willing to leave without one. That could complicate the situation at the sensitive Northern Irish border with Ireland – the UK’s only land border with the EU.
Biden told journalists in Wilmington, Delaware, that the border must be open.
“We do not want a guarded border,” he said, answering a question from a reporter on what he would say to Brexit negotiators.
The 1998 Good Friday peace deal that effectively ended Northern Ireland’s 30 years of sectarian violence created institutions for cross-border co-operation on the island of Ireland.
Johnson put forward legislation in September that would break the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit divorce treaty that seeks to avoid a physical customs border between the British province and EU-member Ireland.
Biden, who has talked about the importance of his Irish heritage, warned months ago as the Democratic candidate for the presidency that the UK must honour the 1998 agreement as it withdraws from the bloc or there can be no separate US trade deal.