Washington: US President Joe Biden will urge Prime Minister Liz Truss to work with the EU to resolve tensions around post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, the White House has said.
They will hold their first bilateral meeting on Wednesday after Truss travelled to New York for a UN summit.
Tensions between the two leaders have emerged over controversial UK plans to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Truss has said she will not allow problems with the deal to “drift”.
Speaking to reporters in New York, she said the UK must fix issues preventing the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland and ensure “free-flowing trade east to west as well as north to south”.
Both Biden and Truss have said a negotiated resolution to the row over the protocol – which was signed when Boris Johnson was Prime Minister – between London and Brussels was preferable.
Truss said: “I’ve always been clear my preference is for a negotiated settlement to deal with those issues and I will continue to seek that. But what I will not allow is for this situation to drift.”
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday the president would encourage the UK and EU to reach a deal to protect the Northern Ireland peace deal – the Good Friday Agreement.
The Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that a UK-US trade deal was a long way off has been interpreted as an attempt to neutralise suggestions from the White House that her stance on the protocol could scupper any deal, says the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason.
Other differences between the two leaders were highlighted on Tuesday when Mr Biden tweeted that he was “sick and tired of trickle-down economics” – the theory that cutting taxes for businesses and wealthy people will benefit poorer workers as money makes its way through the economy.
Although apparently not intended as a criticism of Truss, the comment underlines the political differences between the two leaders ahead of their meeting. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman called it “ludicrous” to suggest Mr Biden was referring to Truss in his tweet.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit deal: it means lorries don’t face checkpoints when they go from Northern Ireland (in the UK) to the Irish Republic (in the EU)
Instead, when goods arrive in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK (England, Scotland and Wales), they are checked against EU rules
The UK and the EU chose this arrangement because the Irish border is a sensitive issue due to Northern Ireland’s troubled political history