President Bush praises peace process

United States President George Bush has praised the peace process, hailing it and the people of Northern Ireland as a "beacon of hope" for divided societies across the world.

US Ambassador to the UK, William Farish, delivered the message at a gala celebration of Christmas peace at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

The statement said: "Northern Ireland is a beacon of hope for divided societies around the world of what is possible when leaders and people are determined to build a new future instead of dwelling on old hatreds.

"This Christmas season finds the United States a different country than it was before September 11.

"We are stronger and more united. Today, all people, everywhere who value peace and civilisation are determined to secure the fundamental freedom that allows us to exist free from fear.

"In most places on most days for most families, life is normal in Northern Ireland. There is no longer worry when they board a bus, go to work, or church, or school.

"No one can put a price on this progress and the peace of mind it brings." (GB)

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