President Biden marked St. Patrick’s Day by recommitting the US to the Good Friday Agreement, which has come under increasing stress following the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union. Biden, the latest president of Irish descent, held a virtual meeting Wednesday with Ireland's prime minister, Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Before the meeting, the president attended a morning Mass at the aptly named St. Patrick’s Church near his family home in Wilmington, Delaware, then returned to the White House to partake in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which were toned down due to the pandemic, the AP reports. In keeping with recent tradition, the water in fountains outside the White House ran green for the day.
Biden and Martin’s virtual bilateral meeting— Biden's third with a foreign leader since he took office eight weeks ago—included the presentation of an engraved bowl of shamrock, which was sent ahead to Washington. It ensured that a tradition that began in 1952 continued uninterrupted, if modified by COVID-19 concerns. The White House said Biden would also drop in on Vice President Kamala Harris' meeting with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill. Signed in 1998, the Good Friday Agreement helped end sectarian violence that had raged for three decades over the issue of Northern Ireland unifying with Ireland or remaining part of the UK. Biden told Martin that it is "critically important" that the Good Friday Agreement be maintained.
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