Via Teleconference
Ten Square Hotel
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

9:21 A.M. BST
MR. SAVETT:  So, thank you everyone for your — your patience.  We’ll go ahead and get started. 
For those who don’t know me, I’m Sean Savett from the National Security Council.  This is Amanda Sloat, our senior director for Europe. 
As a brief reminder of the ground rules, we’ll do this on the record with no embargo. 
We appreciate everyone joining today. 
I will try to alternate questions between the room and then get a couple in from the Zoom as well, since we have a good crowd on Zoom.  And so, I’ll kind of go back and forth.
With that, Amanda, they’re over to you. 
MS. SLOAT:  Hi, great.  Thanks.  Good morning, everybody.  It’s great to be back in Belfast, and nice to see sunshine this morning as opposed to the cold and rainy weather we had on arrival last night. 
As everybody knows, the President has been very excited about this trip for quite some time and is glad to be here to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, which has brought peace and stability in Northern Ireland after decades of violence. 
President Biden cares deeply about Northern Ireland and has for many decades dating back to his time in the Senate, and has long been an advocate for how the U.S. could play a constructive role supporting peace and prosperity. 
I have to say, as a personal note, I lived in Northern Ireland for three years — moving here in 1998 — or, sorry, moving here in 2001, three years after the Good Friday was signed and a week before 9/11.  So, it’s a particular honor for me to be back in a place I care deeply about and also with a President who cares very deeply about the place as well.
As I said, as a U.S. senator, Joe Biden visited Northern Ireland, met with leaders of its political parties as well as with British and Irish leaders.  He advocated for the U.S. to provide economic assistance in support of the peace process and alleviate the high economic cost of the Troubles. 
He vocally supported the adoption of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.  In 2000, he nominated Senator George Mitchell to receive the Nobel Prize for his work to bring together Northern Ireland’s leaders.
President Biden, as I think you’re all tracking, will be meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak later this morning.  So it’ll be an opportunity for the two of them to discuss the tremendous progress that’s been made here in Northern Ireland, as well as to how the United States can continue working with the UK government as well as the Irish government, the European Union, and Northern Ireland’s leaders to continue to be a partner for peace and to support continued economic development in Northern Ireland.
I expect the leaders will also have the opportunity to touch base on the latest developments in Ukraine, including our continued joint efforts to support the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves from Russia’s continued aggression. 
For those of you that are counting, this will be the third in-person meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Sunak.  They met for the first time at the G20 meeting in Bali at the end of last year.  They saw each other last month with the AUKUS announcement in San Diego, at which time the President invited Prime Minister Sunak to visit him in Washington in June.  And of course, they’ll have the opportunity to see each other next month at the G7 meeting in Hiroshima as well.
So, following that meeting, the President will head to Ulster University, which is going to be the main event that the President is doing here in Northern Ireland.  Ulster University is the largest university here in Northern Ireland, and the President will have the opportunity to deliver remarks that will focus on underscoring the readiness of the United States to support the gains of the last 25 years and to support Northern Ireland’s vast economic potential to the benefit of all communities. 
The audience will include a mix of young entrepreneurs, young leaders, business leaders, civil society, representatives of the UK government, as well as members of Northern Ireland’s government. 
I expect the President will talk about how the last 25 years were focused on peace but the next 25 years should be marked by economic growth and prosperity. 
At Ulster University, the President will have the opportunity to engage with the leaders of the five main political parties of Northern Ireland, who he also saw when they were in Washington for the St. Patrick’s Day reception and other events last month. 
After his speech, the President will be heading down to the Republic of Ireland.  He will be starting in County Louth will have — where he will have the opportunity to dig a little deeper into his family’s Irish roots and the story of how they immigrated to the United States.  His ancestors from Louth are the Finnegans, who are on his mother’s side. 
So the President will have the opportunity to take a guided tour of Carlingford Castle.  And from a viewpoint at the castle, the President will be able to see Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, which is where Owen Finnegan departed the Port of Newry for New York.
President Biden will end the day with a walking tour of Dundalk, where he may even encounter some distant cousins. 
On Thursday, President Biden will do a number of political engagements in Dublin.  He will start by meeting with President Higgins of Ireland, who he also met with on his visits in 2016 as Vice President and in 2017 when he came in a personal capacity.  There he will participate in a tree planting ceremony and the ringing of the Peace Bell. 
Following that ceremony, he’ll meet with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who he of course hosted last month in Washington for St. Patrick’s Day. 
In both meetings, the President will have the opportunity to discuss the close bilateral cooperation between our two countries, as well as our cooperation on a shared — a range of shared global challenges. 
The President will then address a joint session of the Irish Parliament, where I assume he will talk about, again, the strong bilateral ties between the United States and Europe and our close cooperation to advance peace, security, and prosperity, as well as the deep and enduring historical, cultural, political, and economic ties between our countries. 
On Thursday night, the President will attend a banquet dinner hosted by the Taoiseach at Dublin Castle.
On Friday, President Biden will travel to County Mayo, which will include stops at the world-renowned Knock Shrine and the North Mayo Heritage Center.  At the latter site, the President is expected to meet with experts who will share further research about the ancestry of the Blewitt side of President Biden’s family.
The trip will then culminate with the speech in front of St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, which is the very cathedral where, in 1828, President Biden’s great-great-great-grandfather Edward Blewitt’s bricks were used to conduct — to construct 12 pillars that support the nave.
One thing you will hear and to have long heard the President talk about in Ireland is how much his Irish heritage means to him and how closely linked the United States and Ireland are.  Today, 1 in 10 Americans have Irish ancestry.  Irish Americans are proudly represented in every facet of American life. 
And beyond those close personal ties, Ireland, of course, is a key economic partner of the United States, and our two countries are working closely together to make the global economy fairer. 
It’s worth noting that the Irish government has been a very strong supporter of Ukraine, providing vital non-lethal assistance, including medical supplies, body armor, and non-lethal assistance, as well as support for Ukraine’s electric grid and agricultural sector.  They’ve supported sanctions within the EU on Russia.  And notably, the people of Ireland have welcomed approximately 80,000 Ukrainians, offering refuge to those who were forced to flee the violence. 
And I expect the President to recognize all of this and more in his address to the Houses of Parliament and as well as when he speaks in in County Mayo on the last evening of the trip.
So hopefully that gives you a good broad overview of what we have planned today and in the next couple of days.  And happy to take questions.
MR. SAVETT:  Great.  And we’ll start with a couple here in the room, then we’ll go to Zoom.  And for those of us here — those of you who joined a couple minutes late on Zoom, you will have a transcript of Amanda’s opening at the top. 
We’ll start with Darlene from the Associated Press.
Q    Thank you.  Two quick questions not related to Ireland.  On the leak of classified documents, can you share a little bit about how the disclosures have been coming up in conversations that you’re having with your counterparts in Europe, and how that may be complicating the work that you and your colleagues are doing?
And then the second question is on the comments by the French President after he visited China.  How wide would you say the gulf is between the U.S. and the European approach to Beijing?
MS. SLOAT:  So I think we’re going to take all of the non-trip questions with Kirby and Karine later today, and just focus here for now on the trip.
MR. SAVETT:  Over to Josh with Bloomberg. 
Q    Yeah, thank you.  Can you discuss whether the President will have a response to Prime Minister Sunak’s calls to launch some measure of free trade negotiations — not a full FTA, but he wants to move the ball forward here somehow.  What will the President tell him?
MS. SLOAT:  So I don’t anticipate that the two leaders are going to be talking about a free trade agreement on this trip.  I think when they meet later this morning, the purpose of their conversation is going to focus primarily on the situation in Northern Ireland, given that that’s where they’re meeting, as well as the chance to touch base on Ukraine and some other issues. 
When the two leaders met in San Diego, they did have an opportunity to touch briefly on economic issues.  And part of the reason that the President invited Prime Minister Sunak to have a meeting with him in Washington in June is to continue furthering and deepening that conversation. 
So we’re continually looking for ways to engage with the UK on the full range of economic issues, as we had read out of their conversation in San Diego, but are not currently discussing a free trade agreement with them.
Q    Are there any sort of sectoral-specific trade arrangements that the U.S. would be interested in — sort of bite-sized efforts that the PM has been advocating for?
MS. SLOAT:  I think those are all the sorts of ongoing negotiations, and I expect the two leaders will have the opportunity to talk in more detail about economic issues when they have the opportunity for a longer conversation in June.
Q    And very briefly, given his meeting with political party leaders, does the U.S. have a position on whether the Good Friday Agreement should be revised to allow for non-sectarian parties to join any power-sharing agreement?  Right now, that’s not the case.  Does he have a position?  Does the U.S. have a position one way or another whether that should —
MS. SLOAT:  I know that’s the —
Q    — be reviewed?
MS. SLOAT:  — the subject of a lot of ongoing discussion here right now. 
Q    Indeed.
MS. SLOAT:  That’s — that is ultimately going to be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland to make, in terms of how they structure their governance.
Q    And is he pressuring them to break the logjam in Stormont right now?  Or is that not the purpose of the greeting today?
MS. SLOAT:  I — the purpose of the President’s visit today is to mark the Good Friday Agreement, to continue to reaffirm the support of the United States for peace and prosperity, to underscore the readiness of the United States to engage in further economic investment here. 
Obviously, the President, like I think everybody in Northern Ireland — the Prime Minister, the Taoiseach, and the rest — would like to see the devolved institutions back up and running.  The President made that point in his remarks on St. Patrick’s Day. 
But really, the main purpose of his visit here today is to mark the anniversary. 
Q    All right.  Thank you. 
MR. SAVETT:  Okay, we’ll go back to NPR. 
Q    Thanks, Amanda.  Appreciate it. 
In terms of talking to the DUP today, what is the President’s strategy to encourage them to reopen Stormont, given it’s widely seen here that they’re holding it up because they don’t want Sinn Féin to have the First Minister and sort of break this huge tradition?  Just curious to know what leverage he might have in his conversations with the DUP.
MS. SLOAT:  I think — like I said in response to the previous question, I think the main message of the President to all parties, to all people of Northern Ireland is to reaffirm support for the Good Friday Agreement. 
And obviously, pillar one and the devolved institutions here in Northern Ireland are a fundamental part — Strand 1 — of the Good Friday Agreement. 
And so, I think the President’s message, as he said in St. Patrick’s Day, as I expect he will reaffirm today, is the United States’ strong support for that: the belief that the people of Northern Ireland deserve to have democratically elected, power-sharing, representative governance. 
So I think the President comes here very much as a friend, as a supporter of Northern Ireland, as a supporter of peace in Northern Ireland, to convey the message of support from the United States for those institutions and for the process here.
MR. SAVETT:  Great.  We’ll take one from the Zoom here.  We’ll go to Brendan Hughes.
Q    Thank you very much for this briefing.  (Inaudible) interested in the logistics of things, I’m wondering if you could tell us: In relation to meetings or engagements that the President will be having with the Stormont parties, how is that engagement going to look?  Is it going to be a proper sit-down meeting or is it simply going to be a shaking of hands while they’re at Ulster University?
I’m wondering if you could give a bit more detail as to the timings of when he will actually be leaving Northern Ireland, how he’ll be leaving Northern Ireland.  You know, because we’re interested in just how short this visit north of the border will be. 
MS. SLOAT:  Do you want to address any of the logistics?
MR. SAVETT:  Sure.  On the logistics, the President — after his event at Ulster University, he’ll head to the airport to fly to Dublin.  And from there, he’ll head over to County Louth.
For the meeting — or his engagements at Ulster University, he will be — he will be engaging with the party leaders in advance of the speech. 
MS. SLOAT:  I can — yeah.  I mean on — as — yes, I think Sean is tracking better the timing and the broad logistics side. 
But I think as Sean said, the President will arrive at Ulster University and will have the opportunity, I think, to engage with some of the dignitaries who will be attending his speech, and it will be in that context that he’ll have the opportunity to engage with the leaders of Northern Ireland’s five main political parties in advance of delivering his remarks at the university.
MR. SAVETT:  Great.  We’ll come back to the Zoom in just a moment.  But let’s got to Catherine Lucey from The Wall Street Journal. 
Q    Thanks.  I just want to be clear.  You keep saying “engagement with the party leaders.”  Is this — is this just a hello or will there actually be time for them to have a conversation?
MS. SLOAT:  I expect there will be time to have a conversation. 
Q    And —
MS. SLOAT:  It is — I mean, it is not going to be a formal sit-down group meeting, but there will be an opportunity for him to speak with each of the leaders of the five main political parties. 
Q    And I know you’ve been asked versions of this before.  But with the DUP, does the President going — is he going to have a direct ask for them?  Is he going to ask them to do anything?
MS. SLOAT:  I don’t — I’m not going to speak to what the President is going to say in these meetings.  I think, as a broad matter and as I indicated, the President obviously is supportive of the institutions. 
The President — like everybody in in Northern Ireland, the leader of the UK — would like to see the institutions up and running.  That’s been very much the President’s broad and consistent message from St. Patrick’s Day.  I think you will hear that message publicly from the President today.  And I think he will have the opportunity to convey that directly to the party leaders as well.
Q    I understand you want to leave other topics to your colleagues.  But can you say if the President himself plans to bring up these leaked documents when he meets with the Prime Minister later this morning, given that the administration has been making great efforts to try and reassure our allies?
MS. SLOAT:  I think we’ve been having engagements across the administration with a broad number of allies and partners, but can’t speak to specifically what the President intends to raise with the Prime Minister this morning.
MR. SAVETT:  Great.  We’ll go back to Zoom for Amy Gibbons.
Q    Hi, there.  Can you hear me? 
MR. SAVETT:  Yes, we can. 
Q    Hi.  Great.  Great.  Thanks very much for this briefing.  Just wanted to ask: Unionists believe the President is in favor of Irish reunification.  So is he?
MS. SLOAT:  I think as — as I said, the President is a strong supporter of the Good Friday Agreement, and the Good Friday Agreement includes mechanisms by which the people of Northern Ireland can make that decision for themselves.

MR. SAVETT:  Great.  We’ll go to —

Q    But in terms of —

MR. SAVETT:  Go for it.

Q    Sorry, in terms of Irish reunification — so specifically, you know, a united Ireland.

MS. SLOAT:  I — like I said, the Good Friday Agreement is very clear on what the process is.  And the President very much recognizes that that is ultimately a decision that the people of Northern Ireland need to make according to the provisions laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.

Q    Thank you.

MR. SAVETT:  Thank you.  We’ll do one more from the Zoom, and we’ll come back to the room.

Let’s go to Antonello Guerrera.

Q    Hi.  Sorry, I couldn’t unmute.  Thanks very much for this.

Still on the DUP and unionists, I mean, can I ask how generally concerned is the President about the potential consequences of this political backlog in Belfast? 
And does the President feel any hostility from the unionists and the DUP side, who might see him as maybe too Irish?  Thank you.

MS. SLOAT:  I think that the President, as I said, has long tracked, supported, and engaged in the peace process here in Northern Ireland.  And I think if you look back to his record, dating back to when he was a senator, in here, the President has a track record of engaging with leaders from all communities, engaging with the leaders of both the UK and Ireland. 

The President had the opportunity to interact with the leaders of all of the political parties when they were in Washington for St. Patrick’s Day. 

The President, today, will have the opportunity to engage with the leaders from the five main political parties here as well, and certainly recognizes that the Good Friday Agreement is structured in a way to reflect the current situation in Northern Ireland, and that very much involves a power-sharing government that respects the views of both communities.

MR. SAVETT:  Great.  Ed O’Keefe, CBS.

Q    Thank you, again, for doing this.  After today’s pretty meaty and sensitive interactions with political leaders here, I think there’s a perception that the rest of this week is essentially, you know, tree planting, bell ringing, and a taxpayer-funded family reunion.  What would the White House say to that charge, that this is essentially the President coming to rediscover his roots and that there may not be much substance beyond that?

MS. SLOAT:  I would, not surprisingly, dispute that characterization.  Like I said, the President today is going to have the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister of the UK. 

I think the President feels very strongly that there is benefit, both here as well as in the United States, to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.  He is here two days after the 25th anniversary of that and, I think, feels it’s important to send a powerful signal of support by the United States for the progress that’s been made, the sustained support going ahead.

And then, on Thursday, the President will spend the day doing very active diplomacy with the leaders of Ireland.  He’ll be meeting the President.  He’ll be meeting the Taoiseach.  I think there’s going to be a lot of conversations in both of those about Ukraine, in particular — which, as I said, has been a strong and effective partner with the European Union in the efforts in Ukraine, as well as the large number of other areas we’re working together around the world; peacekeeping; USAID and Irish Aid are working very tog- — closely together on food security, which is particularly relevant in the context of Ukraine.  And I think the issue of immigration, not only is a personal one for the President, but, I think, is also one that speaks much more broadly to the shared experience of a large number of Americans. 

And I think the President also finds it a useful opportunity to engage more broadly on these questions of immigration, to engage on the close economic ties between our two countries, as well as to have the opportunity to talk again in person with these Irish leaders about the shared foreign policy goals that we’re working on, including Ukraine, as well as to Ireland, which, of course, is a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and clearly has a vested interest in political developments here in Northern Ireland as well.

Q    And on Ukraine, there’s an ongoing debate now in Ireland about whether to revisit military neutrality.  Does the President, does the administration take a position on that?  Is that likely something he would nudge them towards if asked or if prompted with in those conversations?

MS. SLOAT:  You know, I mean, again, I think that’s a decision for the Irish people.  I think the President has respected the fact that even though Ireland is neutral militarily, they — and I think the Taoiseach and the leadership of Ireland themselves have said that they are not neutral when it comes to standing up for the U.N. principles in the conflict.

I think the President has been appreciative of everything that Ireland has done, especially through the EU, including through the Peace Facility that’s been used in Ukraine, the non-lethal assistance that they have provided, and then in particular, the really significant number of refugees that they have taken in. 

But I think for questions on broader military assistance and neutrality obviously is going to be a decision for the Irish government.

MR. SAVETT:  Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News.

Q    Could you describe some of the sensitivities that you’re trying to be mindful of here?  So, the UK Prime Minister is not attending the President’s speech.  There is some concern about how much time the President is spending in Belfast and even a certain sense of how much the President should talk about his Irish roots with the way some interpret that and some of the questions you’ve already received about whether or not the President is interested in reunification. 

So, in this particular moment, coming to Ireland, where there is an anniversary to celebrate but there are also current tensions and questions, how is the President trying to be careful about some of those sensitivities?

MS. SLOAT:  I — sure.  I mean, the President, I think, is coming here very much as a friend of Northern Ireland, a strong supporter of the Good Friday Agreement, a strong supporter of the peace process, and I think with messages of support and encouragement — one, obviously marking the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the tremendous progress that’s been made.

Second, I think the President recognizes the challenges that the UK’s departure from the European Union have created for Northern Ireland in particular.  And I think that’s why you’ve seen the President be so vocal in welcoming the Windsor Framework, which is a recognition of the fact that the UK, the EU — in particular Prime Minister Sunak, President von der Leyen — worked very closely together over a number of months to try and find a way forward that address the needs of the — of the EU’s economic situation in a way that was in the best interest of Northern Ireland and that responded to a lot of what they were hearing from the business community in Northern Ireland, the UK, and Ireland as well.  So, a second message is recognizing the work that has been done already on that.

Third is to remind, reiterate, underscore the continued support of the United States, both for the peace process and especially on the economic side.

The President appointed, a couple of months ago, Joe Kennedy as the Special Envoy for Northern Ireland economic affairs.  Joe Kennedy will be with the President today at the speech, and Joe Kennedy will be remaining in Northern Ireland in the days ahead to continue following up on the President’s pledge to continue investing in the economic development of Northern Ireland.

And then, finally, as we have been talking about, obviously, the President has an interest in the governance of Northern Ireland and the Strand One, the devolved institutions of Northern Ireland are a critical part of that.  And I think the President will reiterate what he said in his St. Patrick’s Day remarks, which is that he, the United States, the people of Northern Ireland, want to see a strong and functioning representative government here in Northern Ireland.

MR. SAVETT:  And I know I’m kind of blocked by the TV, so I’ve wasn’t able to see this side of the room.  So, yes —

Q    Amanda, thank you very much for doing this briefing.  Martin Wall is my name, from the Irish Times.  Can I ask you: When the President goes to Dublin today and tomorrow, will he have any specific asks of the Irish government?  For example, in Ukraine, will he be asking them to do anything more than they have done up to now?

MS. SLOAT:  I think, like I said, the President has been very happy with everything that Ireland has been doing.  I know when he spoke with the Taoiseach when they were in Washington together on St. Patrick’s Day, it really is staggering when you look per capita at the number of Ukrainian refugees that Ireland has taken in.  So that was something that very much struck the President when they met in Washington, and I expect they will discuss again when they see each other in person.

I think there’s also a recognition that Ireland has given a significant amount of support, particularly in terms of non-lethal, has contributed to what the EU has done on the lethal side through the peace facility, and then obviously been a strong supporter of sanctions within the EU to continue imposing costs on Russia as well.

MR. SAVETT:  Aurelia with the AFP.

Q    Thank you so much.  Following up on the — on the meeting with Northern Ireland political leaders, some DUP leaders had pretty harsh words for the President.  One of them describing him as “anti-British” in the press just this morning.  So is the President trying to change that perception?  And what’s his message going to be for those leaders?

MS. SLOAT:  You know, I think the track record of the President shows that he’s not anti-British.  The President has been very actively engaged throughout his career, dating back to when he was a senator in the peace process in Northern Ireland.  And that has involved meetings with leaders of all of Northern Ireland’s political parties from both of the two main communities, the British and Irish leaders here.
The UK remains one of our strongest and closest allies.  And it’s difficult, frankly, to think of an issue in the world that we are not closely cooperating with the British on.  And it’s why the President wanted to have the opportunity to engage with Prime Minister Sunak this morning to start his day here in in Belfast.
And I think his message to the DUP and to all of the political leaders is going to be what I have been laying out, which is the continued strong support for seeing the peace process move forward here; the strong desire by this President to increase U.S. investment in Northern Ireland, to take advantage of the vast economic potential that he sees here; and to reiterate broad support for the return of devolved government to Northern Ireland.
MR. SAVETT:  Okay.  We only have time for a couple more.  Let me take two final ones from the Zoom, and then I’ll come back to the room.
So, Ben Lowry.
Q    Hello.  Can you hear me?
MR. SAVETT:  Yes, we can.
Q    Okay.  Hi.  Thanks.  Thanks for having me.  Dame Arlene Foster, who is a former First Minister of Northern Ireland and DUP leader, said on a television channel yesterday that President Biden hates the United Kingdom.  And I just wondered what the reaction was to that.
MR. SLOAT:  I guess I can answer the same question a second time.  It’s simply untrue.  The fact that the President is going to be engaging for the third time in three months and then again next month, and then again in June with the Prime Minister of the UK shows how close our cooperation is with the UK.
And before that, the President had numerous calls and meetings with Prime Minister Johnson and Prime Minister Truss as well.
President Biden obviously is a very proud Irish American.  He is proud of those Irish roots.  But he is also a strong supporter of our bilateral partnership with the UK, not only on a bilateral basis, within NATO, within the G7, on the U.N. Security Council. 
And like I said, we truly are working in lockstep with the British government on all of the pressing global challenges that our countries are facing.
MR. SAVETT:  Let’s do one final question from the Zoom, and then we’ll come back to the room to finish out.
Let’s do Lisa O’Carroll.
Q    Hi there.  Yeah, you covered in those recent questions what I was originally going to ask.  However, is there something (inaudible) that you can add on what America, what Joe Biden envisages as economic support?  What form will that take?  Will it be some sort of summit?  And what exactly can (inaudible)?
MS. SLOAT:  It’s a good question, and I think that’s going to be a large part of the remit of Joe Kennedy.  Like I said, he is here with the President.  He will be at his remarks today.  I believe he will be spending the next week here in Northern Ireland.  He had the opportunity to engage with a lot of U.S. companies, as well as Northern Ireland companies, other British and Irish firms in Washington around St. Patrick’s Day.
He’ll be taking the opportunity of being here this week to continue those conversations.  I think he wants to get a sense of what specific needs are in Northern Ireland and then to start thinking through ways in which the United States can best support that through increased investment, trade links, and other ways in which the U.S. can meaningfully contribute to unlocking the truly vast potential here in Northern Ireland.
MR. SAVETT:  Thank you.  We have time for two final questions.  The BBC.
Q    Hi there.  Does the President believe it is necessary for the devolved government (inaudible) to be up and running in order to access that economic investment that you’re talking about?  Is it a prerequisite that there’s a functioning government before there can be economic assistance?
MS. SLOAT:  I don’t think we’re putting conditions on it.  I mean, there is a need for additional economic support and development here.  Certainly, if you talk to business leaders, they have made clear that they are looking for stability and certainty. 
But I think our commitment to Northern Ireland has been clear and sustained and is going to continue. But that, obviously, is a question for business leaders.
It is, just to go back to something I said earlier, why the President has been so supportive of the Windsor Framework, because there is a clear view that that responded to the needs that were identified by businesses and that that is a step in giving businesses the confidence and the stability that they need.
So I think it’s fair to say that having the devolved institutions up and running would further provide that stability and certainty to businesses.  But the U.S. commitment to support Northern Ireland’s economic development stands on its own.
MR. SAVETT:  Great.  We have time for one final question if anyone has any more. 
Great.  Always — always love it when we exhaust questions.
MS. SLOAT:  I know.  The last ones are always the hardest too, so. 
MR. SAVETT:  Well, thank you, everyone, for taking the time to do this.  We were very glad we were able to make it work.
As Amanda said at the beginning, we’re working on getting more gaggles for you all throughout the trip, including with Kirby and Karine.  So we’ll keep you all posted as soon as something gets finalized.
9:53 A.M. BST

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