THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
British Prime Minister Blair in Northern Ireland
I welcome Prime Minister Blair's statement today in Northern Ireland as a balanced and constructive step toward restoring momentum to the peace process. His words offer hope and reassurance to the people of both of Northern Ireland's traditions.
The Prime Minister has made clear that this British Government, like its predecessor, wants to see inclusive talks, but it will invite Sinn Fein to the negotiating table only on the basis of an unequivocal cease-fire. And he has taken the initiative in offering to meet with Sinn Fein, at the official level, to assess whether inclusive talks are possible on that basis. I urge Sinn Fein to take up this offer and I pray it will bring about an end to the violence for good. Now is the time to open a new chapter in the history of this tragic conflict and achieve through dialogue and negotiation the lasting settlement the people of Northern Ireland want and deserve.
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