Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to personally handle the role of peace envoy to Ireland, the Irish Voice and IrishCentral have learned.
The announcement will be made shortly as will the announcement of an economic envoy to help with the region's reconciliation process.
Clinton is expected to visit Northern Ireland as Secretary of State in early September, according to sources. She will be accompanied by the new economic envoy on that trip.
The decision by Clinton places the Northern Ireland peace process at the highest-ever level within the State Department. Previous incumbents such as Richard Haas, Mitchell Reiss and Paula Dobriansky all occupied senior positions in the department, but were never at the very top.
The decision is a major boost for Northern Ireland, both in terms of visibility and personal involvement by the Secretary of State.
Clinton has been involved in the American role in the peace process from the very outset, making six trips as First Lady to bolster her husband’s work on the peace accord.
She played a major role in bringing women leaders from both sides of the divide together on several occasions as part of her ‘Vital Voices" initiative.
Her role caused some controversy during the Presidential campaign, with then-candidate Barack Obama, among others, challenging the extent of her work on the Northern Ireland process.
Clinton stated on the campaign trail that "I went [to Northern Ireland] more than my husband did. I was working to help change the atmosphere among people because leaders alone rarely make peace. They have to bring people along who believe peace is in their interests. “
Clinton is very well known among all the leaders in Northern Ireland, and certainly would need very little briefing on the situation there. The appointment of a powerful economic envoy with a mandate to bring in more investment into Northern Ireland will also boost the peace process.