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Biden to travel to Northern Ireland to mark Good Friday Agreement anniversary

The White House announced Wednesday that President Biden will visit Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement before traveling on to Ireland.

Mr. Biden will first visit Belfast on Tuesday, April 11, one day after the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the landmark 1998 deal that ended 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, a period known as The Troubles. Former President Bill Clinton, who played a key role in negotiating the deal, is also set to travel to Belfast to mark the anniversary, according to the Irish Times.

Mr. Biden will mark the “tremendous progress” since the signing of the agreement, the White House said. 

After Belfast, Mr. Biden will then go to Ireland from April 12 to 14. He is set to visit Dublin, County Louth and County Mayo, where “he will deliver an address to celebrate the deep, historic ties that link our countries and people,” the White House said. 

President Biden will visit Ballina, Ireland, a sister-city of Scranton on Friday. The president’s roots lay in the Irish city.  

“It will be a privilege and an honor for us to welcome President Joe Biden to Ireland, especially as we mark 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a video posted to his Twitter account. “The involvement of the United States and President Biden personally has been essential to the peace process in Ireland from its earliest, uncertain beginnings to the making of the Good Friday Agreement. In good days and bad, the U.S. has always been at our side.” 

Varadkar called the U.S. and Ireland “true partners,” noting the Mr. Biden’s “special affinity for Ireland.” Mr. Biden has Irish ancestry — his great-great-great grandfather Edward Blewitt was born in Ballina before emigrating to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Ballina, located along the coast in County Mayo, is now preparing a homecoming of sorts for Mr. Biden

“The visit is going to be unbelievable,” Annie May Reape, a local politician, told CBS News last month. “We have a lovely tradition where people like to come and see where their ancestors came from, and now everyone will be anxious to see one of the most important people in the world has a family background in Ballina.” 

Former President Barack Obama, who also had Irish ancestry, visited Belfast in 2013 and Ireland in 2011. The Trump administration had announced in 2018 that former President Donald Trump would visit as part of a trip to Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, but that trip was indefinitely postponed.

Source: CBS News