Northern Ireland

Brexit: Mike Pompeo says Good Friday Agreement must be sustained

Mike Pompeo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mike Pompeo said it was important to protect the Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday peace agreement "needs to be sustained", according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He made the comment at a Senate committee on Tuesday when asked about the potential effect of Brexit on the Northern Ireland peace process.

He agreed it was important to protect the 1998 deal, which led to the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

"It is an incredibly important agreement, one that has proven very effective," said Mr Pompeo.

"[It is] one that needs to be sustained."

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Media captionThe Good Friday Agreement: A brief guide

Wednesday marks the 21st anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement after intense negotiations involving the UK and Irish governments and Northern Ireland's political parties.

The deal set a framework for how Northern Ireland should be governed.

Some political figures in the UK and Europe have raised doubts about how cross-Irish border co-operation can be maintained after Brexit, while others have dismissed them.

Brexit is scheduled to happen on Friday but Prime Minister Theresa May has written to the EU to request a delay until 30 June.

'We should stand up'

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar said last week that it would be difficult to protect both the Good Friday Agreement in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Image copyright US Senate
Image caption Senator Chris Murphy said he had recently visited Belfast and Dublin

He said the Republic of Ireland and the EU will do everything possible to avoid the emergence of a hard border.

Mr Pompeo's comment about the Good Friday Agreement was made in reply to Democrat Senator Chris Murphy who suggested that Democrats and Republicans should unite on protecting peace in Northern Ireland.

Mr Murphy told Mr Pompeo: "We may disagree on the right prescription for Britain moving forward with respect to whether or not they stay in the European Union.

"But we likely don't disagree on the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

"It seems like a moment when we should be standing up - Republicans and Democrats - and telling our friends in London that whatever they do they need to recognise the existing fragility of peace in Northern Ireland and the importance of protecting that peace process no matter how this agreement with the European Union turns out."