The first minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson has urged US President Barack Obama to "openly distance" the administration from a "foolish" motion by the California Democratic Party backing a united Ireland.

Robinson has also written to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blasting what he called the "foolish motion."

However, the DUP leader also acknowledged that the motion was unlikely to lead to any change in American policy on Northern Ireland.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a member of the California Democratic Party which passed the motion calling for a united Ireland and also sent copies of same to US President Barack Obama.

Robinson said: "I hope we will see the administration openly distancing itself from this motion adopted by the California Democratic Party."

He said it was important for Obama to be the new White House incumbent to maintain the even-handed approach of previous US administrations.

"I have no doubt that the adoption of this foolish motion by one state Democratic Party will seem of limited importance to the White House or the US State Department, nevertheless it raises concerns with people here in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The Democrats control all three branches of the United States government: the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Presidency.

"It is vitally important that they are seen to be adopting a neutral and even-handed policy on Northern Ireland.

"Any sign that the administration favours one political point of view in Northern Ireland over another could have potentially damaging and destabilising consequences for US-Northern Ireland relations."

"I have written to Mrs Clinton to emphasise this point," he said.

"People want to see the Obama administration adopt an honest-broker role. The adoption of a resolution supporting a united Ireland is not compatible with such a position prevailing."

Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey had earlier blasted the motion as "provocative."