US dashes hopes of quick Transatlantic trade deal as Secretary of State Antony Blinken warns Joe Biden will wade into Brexit row if Northern Ireland peace is threatened
- Antony Blinken poured cold water on hopes of quick trade agreement with US
- Insisted America will ‘take some time’ to review progress made during Trump era
- Secretary of State said Joe Biden focussed on defending Northern Ireland peace
The US today dashed hopes of a quick Transatlantic trade deal warning that it will take ‘some time’ to thrash out terms.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted the US and UK were ‘profoundly in sync’ but poured cold water on the prospects for an imminent post-Brexit pact to boost economic ties.
In an apparent warning to Boris Johnson, he also stressed that Joe Biden is ‘focussed’ on making sure the row over the Northern Ireland protocol does not threaten the peace process.
The comments, in an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, came after Mr Blinken attended the summit of G7 ministers in London this week – the first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic erupted.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (pictured meeting Boris Johnson in London earlier this week) insisted the US and UK were ‘profoundly in sync’ but poured cold water on the prospects for an imminent post-Brexit pact to boost economic ties
In an apparent warning to Mr Johnson, he also stressed that US president Joe Biden (pictured) is ‘focussed’ on making sure the row over the Northern Ireland protocol does not threaten the peace process
The US would not object if the Uk decides to repay an historical £400million debt to Iran, Antony Blinken said today.
Tehran has linked the row over an abortive tank purchase in the 1970s to the five-year detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Wrangling has intensified this week with claims that the UK could be ready to repay the sum as a ‘ransom’ – although ministers insist the two issues are not linked.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the US Secretary of State suggested there would be no complaint from America if the sum was paid.
‘It’s a sovereign decision for the United Kingdom,’ he said.
Donald Trump had made great play of his determination to strike a speedy deal with the UK, hailing the potential gains for both sides.
But Mr Blinken said Mr Biden’s new trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, would now be taking time to review the discussions that had taken place with the previous administration.
He said the US wanted to ensure any trade agreement would benefit American workers and their families.
‘Our trade negotiator just got on the job, so she’s taking the time to go back and review everything that was discussed and that’s going to take some time,’ he said.
‘We want to make sure that, whether it’s with the United Kingdom or anyone else, any agreements reached are consistent with the principles that President Biden has established to focus on making sure that these agreements really advance the wellbeing of our workers and their families. That’s our focus.’
With continuing tensions in Northern Ireland over the implementation of the Brexit ‘divorce’ settlement, Mr Blinken said the US was ‘very focussed’ on ensuring the Good Friday Agreement was maintained.
‘We want to make sure that, whether it’s with the United Kingdom or the EU, whether it’s anything we’re doing, that we make sure that the tremendous gains from the Good Friday Agreement are sustained and that the economic as well the political wellbeing of Northern Ireland is taken fully into account,’ he said.
On Iran, Mr Blinken said the US had shown its ‘seriousness and purpose’ in seeking to strike a new nuclear deal after Donald Trump tore up the internationally agreed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Mr Blinken (pictured) said Mr Biden’s new trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, would now be taking time to review the discussions that had taken place with the previous administration
However, he said Tehran had to show it was willing to comply with the terms of the agreement – intended to curb its ability to develop a nuclear weapon – amid concerns it was close to achieving a ‘breakout’ capability.
‘Compliance is compliance and what we don’t know is whether Iran is prepared to make the same decision and to move forward,’ he said.
‘Right now, unfortunately, Iran has itself lifted many of the constraints imposed on it by the agreement because we pulled out, and it is now getting closer and closer again to that point where its breakout time is going to be down to a few months and eventually even less,’ he said.
‘So there’s nothing naive about this. On the contrary, it’s a very clear way of dealing with a problem that was dealt with effectively by the JCPOA and we’ll have to see if we can do the same thing again.’
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