Former US president Bill Clinton arrived in Northern Ireland on Wednesday for talks concerning Northern Ireland’s economic future.
The 64-year-old also spoke about his continued dedication to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“All of you I have been privileged to know for the last 15 years or more know that working on the Irish peace process was one of the two or three great honors of my life,” he said.
“I thank all of you for proving a thesis possible. Whenever people say we can’t do it in the Middle East, we can’t do it somewhere, we just draw Northern Ireland to them.”
Clinton jetted in on an overnight flight and began his visit with a private meeting with long term friend and former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife Pat.
Later on yesterday, first Minister Peter Robinson, his deputy Martin McGuinness and US economic envoy to the region Declan Kelly greeted Clinton in Derry.
His visit comes in advance of the U.S.-Northern Ireland Economic Conference which will be held on October 19 at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
"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," Robinson said.
He added that the United States had become an "important and influential friend" and highlighted the "importance" of the US role in boosting the local economy.
McGuinness added that next month’s conference in Washington was an "unprecedented opportunity to highlight potential investment opportunities here to US investors."
The former president delivered a key note address at the University of Ulster in Derry and outlined a number of sectors that he believes to have the driving potential for the Northern Ireland’s future, including fish farming, arts, crafts and tourism.
“There are a lot of non-governmental international groups that really care about what happens in Northern Ireland, they really want you to make it,” he said.
“They want every day to be able to hold you up as a shining light to all these places that are still fighting.
“You’d be amazed how many people around the world would come here and help if you just ask. They have no idea that you even have any problems – you know, it’s amazing how we all get out of the news if we aren’t causing trouble.”
Speaking about his visit Declan Kelly, U.S. economic envoy to Northern Ireland told the Irish Voice that the president remains keenly interested in Northern Ireland.
“Given Bill Clinton’s influence and the position he enjoys in the world, his participation is a huge vote of confidence in Northern Ireland and I know that everybody appreciates it very much”.
Today Mr Clinton is due to officially open the Clinton Institute for American studies at University College Dublin.
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