29/09/2010

Clinton Meets Robinson And McGuinness

The former US President Bill Clinton is visiting Londonderry today and is making a speech on how to build economic prosperity.

This is the former president's first return trip since 2004 and he was today greeted by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the University of Ulster's Magee College where Mr Clinton (pictured) is delivering a keynote address to an invited audience.

DUP leader, Peter Robinson commented that the US had become "an important and influential friend". He said: "During our meeting President Clinton once again outlined the US administration's continuing commitment to helping us achieve our goal of a vibrant and dynamic economy.

"The importance of the role the US plays in helping us achieve our trade and investment goals should not be underestimated, I have no doubt that the economic conference to be held in Washington in October will generate further investment here."

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness hailed Mr Clinton's commitment towards peace and prosperity: "President Clinton's personal contribution to achieving peace was unprecedented and unparalleled.
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"It is clear that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton remain committed to developing the local economy. The spotlight that will shine on us at the economic conference will provide an unprecedented opportunity to highlight potential investment opportunities here to US investors," he said.

"We will always be grateful to both him and Secretary of State Clinton for the enormous contribution that they have made and continue to make here."

Bill Clinton's trip is just weeks ahead of a Washington summit on the Northern Ireland economy, which will be hosted by his wife Hillary - now the US Secretary of State.

It will be held on 19 October to encourage American business leaders to invest in Northern Ireland.

Mark Durkan, the SDLP MP and former party leader has commented on the planned tribute to Nobel Peace Laureate John Hume, who is one of the most important influences in the SDLP's history.

Mr Durkan told UTV this afternoon: "John Hume and Bill Clinton have a very warm relationship.

"Bill Clinton very much relied upon John Hume's judgement and read on the situation at various stages of the peace process. John was his best temperature gauge for how bad things were, or the prospects for the future."

Meanwhile, Acting Provost of the University of Ulster, Professor Deirdre Heenan said Mr Clinton's speech focused on economic issues.

Mr Clinton is shortly to travel on to Dublin where he will open the Clinton Institute for American studies at University College.

(BMcC/GK)

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