LONDON, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May started a two-day visit to Northern Ireland on Tuesday to reassure politicians and business leaders she can win a Brexit deal that avoids a hard border with the neighboring Republic of Ireland.
May left London for Belfast after the European Commission announced the European Union (EU) President Jean-Claude Juncker will meet her for talks in Brussels on Thursday.
Her spokesperson said May will be pledging to secure a deal with the EU that commands broad support and a majority in the Houses of Parliament.
Ahead of May's arrival in Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said a proposed backstop arrangement to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland remained a problem.
So far the EU has insisted that a backstop arrangement must be part of its withdrawal agreement with Britain.
Last week May won House of Commons support for her Brexit agreement by a slender majority of 16. But support for her agreement at Westminster depends on avoiding a backstop.
May's minority government depends on support from the 10 DUP politicians at Westminster to give her a majority.
May chaired a meeting of her senior ministers at Downing Street, with her official spokesperson saying the cabinet reiterated its commitment to both avoiding a hard border and leaving the EU with a deal.
"The prime minister said that our objective now is to secure a legally-binding way of guaranteeing we cannot be trapped indefinitely in the backstop. To achieve this, we have launched urgent pieces of work examining alternative arrangements to the backstop and considering legal changes that could provide a unilateral exit mechanism or a time limit to the backstop," added the spokesperson.
May will also hold talks with politicians from political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin, the party that wants to see the reunification of Northern Ireland into Ireland.
Borders in Northern Ireland were removed as part of a peace formula that brought to an end 100 years of troubles in a campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.
People across Britain and Ireland have had free passage under a treaty signed between the two in the 1920s.
Both Britain and Ireland joined the European Union on the same day, Jan. 1, 1973, meaning that no EU borders were needed. When Britain leaves the EU on Mar. 29, the 100 km border between Northern Ireland and Ireland will become the only land border within the British Isles.