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US delegation to fly to UK over Northern Ireland tensions

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theguardian.com

One of Joe Biden’s closest allies is due to arrive in London on Saturday as part of an influential US congressional delegation seeking to calm tensions over Northern Ireland.The nine-strong delegation includes Democratic and Republican delegates from the House of Representatives and Senate including members of the powerful ways and means committee chaired by Richard Neal, who will lead the group.The group was due to land in Brussels early Friday for a series of meetings, including with the European Commission’s vice-president and Brexit commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, to kick off a six-day trip that will also take in Dublin, Kerry and Belfast.They will travel to London for Saturday meetings with the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevalyan, the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, and Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow international trade secretary.Neal has also requested a meeting with Boris Johnson and while nothing is scheduled he said he was “hopeful” talks with the prime minister could still be arranged.The delegation’s arrival is being seen as a significant intervention by the US, which is acting as co-guarantor of the 1998 Good Friday agreement.Neal has already made his displeasure known over the government’s plan to draft legislation to remove parts of the Northern Ireland protocol from the Brexit treaty despite warnings it could risk a full trade war with the EU.But he told the Guardian his mission was to defuse tensions and help broker a UK-EU deal.“My purpose is manifold but we really want to reaffirm America’s unwavering commitment to the Good Friday agreement and to remind everybody that on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it has worked splendidly,”

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