By Jonathan McCambridge and Cillian Sherlock, PA
US president Joe Biden is expected to meet with Stormont’s main political parties as part of a visit he said will underscore his nation’s “commitment to preserving peace and encouraging prosperity” in Northern Ireland.
Mr Biden will arrive in Northern Ireland on Tuesday as he begins a visit marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
He tweeted: “25 years ago, Northern Ireland’s leaders chose peace.
“The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement ended decades of violence and brought stability.
“I look forward to marking the anniversary in Belfast, underscoring the U.S. commitment to preserving peace and encouraging prosperity.”
Mr Biden will also travel to the Republic, where he will carry out a number of engagements during his four-day stay, including visiting Co Louth and Co Mayo, from where his ancestors hail.
UK prime minister Rishi Sunak will meet Mr Biden when Air Force One touches down in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.
The two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting on Wednesday before Mr Biden gives an address at Ulster University’s new £350 million Belfast campus.
The visit coincides with the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which largely brought an end to the Troubles, in Northern Ireland in 1998.
However, the Stormont powersharing Assembly, which was established in the peace deal, is not currently operating due to a protest over post-Brexit trading arrangements by the DUP, the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland.
It is expected that Mr Biden will hold a meeting with Northern Ireland’s main political parties before the Ulster University talk.
A major security operation will be in place for Mr Biden’s visit, with more than 300 officers from the rest of the UK being drafted into Northern Ireland.
The PSNI has also warned of significant traffic disruption in Belfast during the presidential visit, with a number of roads in the city centre already closed.
After he leaves the city on Wednesday, Mr Biden will cross the border to attend engagements in Co Louth.
The president has traced his ancestral roots to the area and he will tour Carlingford Castle in the county before spending the night in Dublin.
He is then expected to visit President Michael D Higgins on Thursday.
It has been announced that Dublin’s Phoenix Park will be closed for 24 hours from 5pm on Wednesday to facilitate the visit.
Mr Higgins’ official residence is within the park’s grounds.
The White House said Mr Biden will take part in a tree-planting ceremony and ringing of the Peace Bell at the president’s official residence, Áras an Uachtaráin.
Following that ceremony, he will meet again with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whom Mr Biden recently hosted for St Patrick’s Day.
Mr Biden will address the Dáil and attend a banquet dinner at Dublin Castle on Thursday evening.
The president’s trip will conclude with a visit to Co Mayo, where he has also connected with distant cousins, on Friday.
He will tour the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock and visit the North Mayo Heritage and Genealogical Centre’s family history research unit.
He will then make a public speech at St Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina.