Major revels in US roots

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THE Moon Hill High School band, people of Pittsburgh, and President Bill Clinton last night vied with each other to demonstrate that the special relationship is far from dead.

President Clinton reminded an enthusiastic audience of 2,000 packed into a hangar in the city's airport that Pittsburgh was a city of the future as well as the past.

And it was certainly the past that had brought the British Prime Minister here. Abraham Ball, son of a Walsall publican and Mr Major's grandfather, worked in Pittsburgh for many years in the 1880s.

Last night Mr Clinton told a delighted audience that after a late-night drink at the last Tokyo summit, Mr Major had told him of his Pennsylvania links. To cheers he added: 'So I thought next time he came to the US he ought to see America and come to Pittsburgh.'

Mr Major said: 'It was the second whisky that did it. I'm jolly glad we had it because I'm delighted to be here'. It may not have been the best of jokes but it could not have gone down better.

The President emphasised the importance of relations with Britain. He praised the 'political courage and vision' of the Prime Minister and the Irish Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, for framing the Anglo- Irish declaration.

Britain and the US had worked together for world trade to extend the hand of post-Cold War friendship to the former Communist countries and to try to solve the 'terrible tragedy' in Bosnia. He added to cheers: 'The British have saved thousands of civilian lives by their presence.'