White House officials have paid a visit to Belfast ahead of a potential trip by President Joe Biden next month.
It's understood that officials and members of the Secret Service arrived in the city last weekend to scope possible venues for a presidential visit.
The officials have also visited sites in Dublin and elsewhere in the Republic of Ireland as part of planning for a multiple-destination visit, the PA news agency understands.
While the dates for the visit haven't been finalised just yet, it's expected that the trip would take place in April when Northern Ireland marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement peace deal.
President Joe Biden, image via Shutterstock
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is scheduled to meet President Biden in Washington DC next week as part of the annual St Patrick’s programme of events in the US capital. Political leaders from Northern Ireland will also be in Washington next week, with reports that this could be the juncture when a presidential visit to the island of Ireland is confirmed and announced.
Former US president Bill Clinton and his wife and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton are also expected in Belfast next month for events to commemorate the landmark accord that largely ended the Troubles.
Former US President Bill Clinton, image via Shutterstock
Other key figures involved in securing the deal are also due to travel to the city.
A visit by Mr Biden to Northern Ireland to mark the Good Friday deal has long been anticipated - the President has a deep pride in his Irish heritage, and has visited counties Mayo and Louth in recent years to meet long-lost cousins.
Paraphrasing James Joyce, one of his favourite Irish writers, Mr Biden once wrote that north-east Pennsylvania would be written on his heart when he dies but “Ireland will be written on my soul”.
Header image via Shutterstock
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