18 January 2006

Hain hails US support for peace process

:::u.tv:::

Northern Ireland owes a huge debt of gratitude to the United States for its unwavering support of the peace process over the past decade, Secretary of State Peter Hain said tonight (Tuesday).

By:Press Association

The praise was issued at a reception in Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, for a delegation of US Congressmen visiting Belfast, London and Dublin to reinforce American support for the peace process and the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Hain told them: "The United States has been a good and loyal friend to Northern Ireland and the peace process.

"Through its support and encouragement, the American administration has helped to move Northern Ireland forward."

Much had been achieved over the past decade in Northern Ireland. Yet there was still more to be done and 2006 was an important year for everyone who supports devolution, said the Secretary of Sate.

He added: "Both the British and Irish governments value the continued support from politicians on Capitol Hill who want to see the return of the Assembly, all party support for policing, the full implementation of the agreement and a better future for all in Northern Ireland."

The bipartisan US delegation is led by Congressman James Walsh, chairman of the Friends of Ireland in the US Congress.

He is accompanied by Congressmen Tim Murphy and Brian Higgins.

During a brief visit they were meeting representatives of the Northern Ireland parties, the British and Irish governments, and the US Ambassadors to the two countries.

Congressman Walsh said: "We see our role as one of providing encouragement and focused international attention on the fact that this stalled process needs to regain its momentum, especially now with the confirmed decommissioning of weaponry by the Irish Republican Army."

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