Joe Biden is to visit Belfast to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement despite the Democratic Unionist party’s continued boycott of the power-sharing government that the peace pact established.
The US president, who is of Irish heritage, is also expected to travel to Dublin as part of his wish to mark his family connection while in office.
Dates have yet to be confirmed but he is likely to visit in the second half of next month, days after the 10 April anniversary of the agreement reached by the former British and Irish prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, and the former US senator George Mitchell.
It is understood White House “pre-advance” teams have already been to Dublin and Belfast with initial assessments on security and policy matters to be discussed on the trip.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are expected in Belfast around the same time for a large event on 17-19 April organised by Queen’s University marking the anniversary of the Good Friday agreement.
It is thought that Mitchell, who chaired the peace talks in 1997 and 1998, may also attend the event.
There has been speculation that King Charles may also address one of the events that week, intensifying the security arrangements.
Biden has long stressed the importance of the 25th anniversary of the agreement but a trip was in the balance while the UK and EU remained in dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol.
But the way was cleared after Rishi Sunak struck a revised protocol deal with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, 10 days ago.
The DUP will not make a decision until April at the earliest on whether to back the deal, known as the Windsor framework.
Biden and his close aides consider the 1998 deal a model for peace agreements around the world.
Although the power-sharing government collapsed in 2017 for three years and again in February last year when the DUP withdrew its support, the events around the anniversary will stress the bigger prize, the end of the armed conflict after more than 30 years.
Biden last visited Ireland in 2016 as vice-president and it is thought his visit could last five or six days taking in trips to the counties of Mayo and Louth from where his ancestors came.
The trip could be officially confirmed next week amid St Patrick’s Day festivities in Washington expected to be attended by party leaders from north and south of the Irish border.
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