Bill Clinton visits N.Ireland for talks on economy

29th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Former US president Bill Clinton arrived in Northern Ireland on Wednesday for talks aimed at promoting American investment in the British province.

Clinton was greeted by Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness in the city of Londonderry at the start of his two-day trip.

The visit comes ahead of a conference on the Northern Ireland economy in Washington that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to host on October 19.

"During our meeting, president Clinton once again outlined the US administration's continuing commitment to helping us achieve our goal of a vibrant and dynamic economy," Robinson said.

He added that the United States had become an "important and influential friend" and highlighted the "importance" of the US role in boosting the local economy.

Northern Ireland is expected to be hard hit by planned cuts in public spending by the government in London, as one in three workers here are employed by the state, a higher proportion than any other British region.

McGuinness said next month's conference in Washington was an "unprecedented opportunity to highlight potential investment opportunities here to US investors."

He also paid tribute to Clinton's "unprecedented and unparalleled" contribution to ending sectarian violence between the Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.

Clinton was due to give a speech Wednesday at the University of Ulster's Magee College.

Bill and Hillary Clinton have been long-time supporters of the peace process in Northern Ireland, where a historic agreement in 1998 largely brought an end to three decades of unrest, although sporadic attacks still occur.

© 2010 AFP

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