Biden-Harris meeting ‘extremely beneficial’ – Foster and O’Neill

Date published: 17 March 2021

Today’s meeting with President of The United States, Joe Biden and Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris was extremely beneficial, the First Minister and deputy First Minister have said.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill
First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill

The meeting, which was hosted by Vice President Harris, took place as part of the annual programme of St Patrick’s Day engagements in Washington DC.

During the meeting, the Ministers covered a range of issues with the President and Vice President, around shared challenges and future opportunities.  Issues discussed included our progress on tackling the COVID 19 pandemic and driving our economic recovery, as well as highlighting regional strengths and priorities.

The Ministers also expressed their hope that President Biden and Vice President Harris would be able to visit here when they have an opportunity to do so.

Earlier in the day, the First Minister and deputy First Minister addressed the NI Bureau’s annual showcase event, this year to a large virtual audience including political, business and tourism leaders in the United States and beyond.

The Bureau event, which was delivered in partnership with InvestNI, Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI, was supported by a range of well-known personalities and featured contributions from local talent. It also showcased our tourism offering as well as opportunities for business investors.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Our meeting with President Biden and Vice President Harris was extremely valuable. It provided an opportunity to further strengthen our links with the US and look forward to our economic recovery, which will be a key focus for us as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Investment will be a crucial part of our rejuvenating our economy, and as our largest international investor, there is huge potential in our relationship with the United States. And of course, we have much to offer, not least our highly skilled workforce, world class universities and a competitive cost environment.

“As First Minister, I am so proud of Northern Ireland and always welcome the opportunity to showcase our wonderful people and amazing places to the rest of the world. While we had to do things differently this year, the virtual NI Bureau event was a wonderful reflection of what makes Northern Ireland so special.” 

Deputy first Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I was honoured to meet with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. I am really encouraged by the support they have shown for us, and their genuine interest in our progress and our people.

“The consistent backing of the US administration has been crucial in moving our society forward, not least through their unwavering support of the Good Friday Agreement. Our meeting with the President and Vice President was hugely beneficial. It provided a valuable opportunity to discuss how we can build on the progress we have made and continue working to protect the interests of all our people.

“Our family, heritage, and economic links with the United States are incredibly important to us and the traditional St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington are a great opportunity to strengthen that bond, make new connections and promote what we have to offer.

“While it was disappointing that we weren’t able to be in Washington in person this year, I look forward to visiting the US when circumstances allow and very much hope that President Biden and Vice President Harris will be able to visit us here in the not-too-distant future.”

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