(Belfast) He would have liked to celebrate a cloudless peace, but he arrives in Northern Ireland in full political paralysis: in a climate of tension or even mistrust, Joe Biden will seek Wednesday to encourage dialogue in the British province.

The American president comes “ as a friend of Northern Ireland ”, assured one of his advisers, Amanda Sloat, on Wednesday, while his visit is openly criticized in the camp of the Unionists, fiercely attached to belonging to the Kingdom. -United.

Belfast is the first, and quick stop on a journey that will quickly take a more sentimental turn: Joe Biden will travel to the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday afternoon, in the footsteps of his maternal ancestors.

In the meantime, he repeated it again on Tuesday before boarding Air Force One, Joe Biden’s priority is to “ maintain the peace ” so difficult to negotiate 25 years ago in Northern Ireland and currently weakened as rarely since.

Negotiated with active American participation, the text signed on April 10, 1998 put an end to three decades of deadly clashes between Unionists, especially Protestants, and Republicans, mostly Catholics, with the involvement of the British army (3,500 dead).

But the autonomous and shared institutions, one of the great achievements of the peace agreement, have been blocked for more than a year. The DUP, the main unionist party, refuses to participate because of the special status inherited from Brexit.

The 80-year-old Democratic president will have “the opportunity to meet each of the leaders of the five main political parties” in Northern Ireland on Wednesday, before a speech at the University of Belfast, according to the White House.

The American executive took care to insist on the informal nature of these meetings, as if not to expose the president too much.

Joe Biden is indeed facing the open distrust of the DUP, which is wary of this Catholic president who is so proud of his Irish heritage.

In the conservative Daily Telegraph newspaper, DUP MP Sammy Wilson even accuses the Democrat of being “anti-British” and assures: “I don’t think any of us are going to rush to welcome him”.

“The president’s past activities show that he is not anti-British” even if he is “proud” of his Irish descent, assured Amanda Sloat on Wednesday.

Asked about the president’s short stay in Belfast, where it will be less than 24 hours, and the planned quick coffee interview with British Prime Minister Rushi Sunak, she insisted on the close alliance between London and Washington: “It is difficult to find a single international subject on which we do not cooperate closely with the British”.

The fact remains that the American president will spend much more time in the Republic of Ireland, where he is going on Wednesday afternoon, for a first stopover in the footsteps of his maternal ancestors, in County Louth ( northeast).

Joe Biden, who often repeats that he carries Ireland “ in his soul ”, will stay there until Friday, the time to make a very official visit to Dublin on Thursday, but above all to make a real family pilgrimage, in County Louth therefore, but also Friday in that of Mayo, in the west.

On Wednesday, Joe Biden will already have the opportunity to contemplate, from the top of a castle, the port from which one of his ancestors left for America in the 19th century, fleeing like so many Irish people a country ravaged by starvation.

The Democrat, who had previously come to Ireland as vice-president, is returning not only as president, but also as a potential presidential candidate in 2024.

The American president, who already seems to be campaigning although he has not officially declared himself, finds in his Irish heritage a perfect surface for political projection.

He makes a point of proving to a demoralized middle class that the “American dream” is not dead, while presenting himself as coming from a hardworking and modest family.

In Dublin, he will walk in the footsteps of John F. Kennedy, who addressed the Irish parliament in these terms in 1963: “It is this character trait of the Irish, this remarkable alliance of hope, confidence and imagination, which we need today more than ever. »