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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 13, 2000


I was encouraged by today's historic first visit to the White House by the leaders of Northern Ireland's new government, established under the Good Friday Accord. First Minister David Trimble and Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon conveyed to me their absolute commitment to make the new political institutions work for the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland. Although the institutions have only been fully operating for a matter of weeks, elected representatives from across the party spectrum are working together on issues -- from economic development, to the environment, to health, and education -- that hold the key to a better life for their constituents, who now hold them accountable under devolution of power.

While difficult issues relating to implementation of the Good Friday Accord remain, I am convinced following today's meeting that all the parties can work together to overcome their differences and that they fully recognize the importance of doing so to ensure that these historic achievements are not lost. The ongoing violence reminds us of the need for all parties to carry out their obligations under the Accord, and for those with political aims to pursue them through exclusively peaceful means.

I am grateful for the invitation extended to me to visit Northern Ireland. I reaffirm my desire to continue to support the peace process in any way we can.

Thanks to courageous and determined leadership, the people of Northern Ireland face a brighter future now than at any time in the last three decades. As those in zones of conflict around the world search for hope, they need look no further than Northern Ireland, whose leaders have proved that risks for peace are worth taking.