First Lady makes plea for Ulster peace

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The Independent Online
America's First Lady, Hillary Clinton, arrived in Belfast yesterday to stress the continuing interest of the United States in the Northern Ireland peace process.

She delivered a peace lecture emphasising the need for compromise in political negotiations and reconciliation in community relations, receiving a warm welcome during her one-day visit.

She declared: "Be assured the United States is your partner in the long haul to peace."

She had earlier said in Dublin: "My husband remains personally committed to this effort and to those who take risks to make peace happen."

The occasion was seen as reaffirmation of the direct United States involvement in the peace process and political developments. The Stormont multi-party talks are being chaired by former US senator George Mitchell, and President Clinton regularly voices his interest in the Northern Ireland question. While lobbying in America was once seen as the almost exclusive prerogative of Irish nationalist politicians, the Clinton administration has now established contacts with almost all points of the political compass.

Mrs Clinton said of the talks: "The world is watching to see whether they will be able to end a generation of senseless killing and forge a lasting peace. When the people want peace it is the obligation of political leaders to find the common ground where it can thrive.

"That requires compromise and reconciliation. That involves postponing or even giving up one's cherished ideals in the belief that others will do the same to end the conflict and build a better future."

Sinn Fein welcomed Mrs Clinton's words as "a positive and useful contribution to the peace process".

- David McKittrick