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Hillary Clinton to visit Northern Ireland on ‘farewell tour’

Secretary of State will discuss peace process on final trip before her term in office ends

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will visit Northern Ireland next week as part of her “farewell  tour”, the White House has confirmed.

Mrs Clinton will travel to Belfast on 7 December to meet officials as well as discuss the peace process and investment opportunities.

It could be one of her last foreign engagements as Secretary of State. The visit is part of a four-day trip that will also take in Dublin, the Czech Republic and Belgium.

Mrs Clinton, who visited Northern Ireland three times with her hus- band, the former US president Bill Clinton, during the 1990s, plans to discuss the trilateral US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership and economic opportunities for Northern Ireland.

Later Mrs Clinton will take part in an event hosted by the Ireland Funds – a global fundraising network supporting programmes of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Her journey to Belfast will follow a series of engagements south of the border.

In Dublin she is expected at a ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and will discuss with Irish officials areas of co-operation in pro-moting peace, human rights, and economic growth. She is also due to deliver a major speech on US achievements in support of human rights globally.

Mrs Clinton was appointed Secretary of State soon after Barack Obama became President in 2008, despite their earlier acrimonious battle for the Democratic nomination.

She has been among the most travelled US politicians; however, her term runs out next month and she has publicly stated that she does not wish to serve a second term.

Mr and Mrs Clinton visited Northern Ireland three times during his time in office from 1993 and 2001.

The most memorable was in 1995 when they turned on the Christmas lights in Belfast just a year after the first IRA ceasefire.

Mrs Clinton has also visited Northern Ireland without her husband. In 1999 she gave a keynote address to a women’s conference and in October 1997 gave the Tip O’Neill memorial lecture at the University of Ulster. She has also addressed the Northern Ireland Assembly.