British concern over Clinton's election pledges

BILL CLINTON, the front runner for the US presidency, has alarmed the British government with an aggressive policy on human rights in China and with promises to Irish-American voters that he will appoint a special peace envoy for Northern Ireland if elected.

The Government is concerned that a tougher US policy on trade with China would have a disastrous impact on Hong Kong and, by extension, British business interests. Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, who met China's foreign minister in New York, went on to question prominent Democrats and foreign policy experts on Mr Clinton's intentions towards China before leaving New York for Geneva.

Mr Clinton has previously savaged President George Bush's position on trade with China, asserting that he had 'let his friendships in China obscure what those kids did in Tiananmen Square'.

In a separate, but no less un- nerving, concern for the Government, Mr Clinton has reiterated that he is committed to intruding in the politics of Northern Ireland, by appointing a special 'peace envoy'. He told supporters and journalists in New York recently: 'I want you to know that I am committed to Irish issues such as the special envoy and that I intend to deliver on them. Tell your readers the Irish will have a friend in the White House.'

The special envoy proposal is not expected to be welcomed either in Dublin or London, where there is concern about the impact of Irish-American activists on US policy towards Northern Ireland.

But Mr Clinton's overture to the sizeable bloc of Irish-American voters is well thought out, as he tries to woo back many former Democratic voters who have voted Republican in the last three elections. The so-called 'Reagan Democrats' are now disillusioned with Republican politics because of the severity of the economic recession. Many of these key voters are Irish-Americans, and Mr Clinton has made a conscious effort to court them.

Ray Flynn, Boston's mayor, has been campaigning to become the special peace envoy for Ireland, and he accompanied the presidential candidate on his recent visit to New York. Others have suggested that the former president Jimmy Carter might be appointed. When Mr Clinton first raised the issue six months ago, he said: 'I support a peace envoy. We've been a little reluctant to relay our interests in a positive way because of two reasons: our long-standing relationship with Great Britain and also the perception that this situation in Northern Ireland is a very thorny problem.' Albert Reynolds, the Irish prime minister, poured cold water on the idea in a recent interview, in which he said that the appointment was not necessary while talks were going on in Northern Ireland.

Many remain sceptical that as president, Mr Clinton would live up to his promises. One diplomat said: 'A lot of things get said in an election race but when the hard reality of the presidency comes, the plans tend to evaporate.'

Voters' priorities, page 10

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy