Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Senior U.S. Diplomat Warns Britain to Temper Its Spat With E.U. Over Northern Ireland

A senior U.S. diplomat urged London and Brussels to discreetly resolve their disputes, citing the need to unify the West behind Ukraine amid Russia’s onslaught. The Biden administration is warning Britain not to precipitate a clash with the European Union over trade in Northern Ireland, saying it could weaken the West’s solidarity. A senior State Department diplomat, Derek Chollet, delivered the message in meetings at Downing Street on Friday, days after the British government served notice that it might unilaterally scrap some of the provisions in an agreement with Brussels that regulates trade with Northern Ireland. “The last thing we want right now is a big U.K.-E.U. spat,” Mr. Chollet, the State Department’s counselor, said in an interview. “This is a moment where we should be sending a message of unity overall.” Mr. Chollet urged London and Brussels to try to resolve their disputes over Northern Ireland “behind closed doors.” The United States, he said, believed there was scope for compromise on the trade arrangements. “Let’s try to lower the temperature,” he said. “Let’s try to move it into a negotiation.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/20/world/europe/washington-eu-britain-northern-ireland.html) His warning came as the European Union threatened to respond with “all measures at its disposal” if Britain passed legislation discarding the agreement that regulates post-Brexit trade, known as the Northern Ireland protocol. That raised the specter of a trade war erupting across the English Channel at the very moment that the West is uniting to help Ukraine wage a land war farther east.

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