Tuesday, August 11, 1998 Published at 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Newt paves way for President
Newt Gingrich is on a three day tour of the Province
One of America's most powerful politicians has met with leading Northern Ireland politicians during a visit to the province.
Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is leading a cross-party delegation of seven US Congressmen and women on a three-day visit to Northern Ireland.
The visit will pave the way for President Clinton's trip next month.
Mr Gingrich said the success of the peace process depended on the courage of the leaders in the months ahead.
He said: "I think it probably depends on leaders having courage and leaders deciding to place their children's future and the opportunity for peace and for prosperity, ahead of posturing and appealing to the most extreme factions."
He said all parties wanted to see the process move forward and that he believed President Clinton's visit would help continue that momentum.
Mr Gingrich said: "We have already indicated that we hope to continue to develop these kinds of programmes with the US Congress working with the Assembly trying to build bilateral relations."
He said: "This is a tremendous opportunity to move forward with peace for everybody and I hope we can do that."
The speaker admitted there would be a lot of debate and posturing ahead but said he was "very cautiously optimistic".
He also gave assurances that economic support would continue in the form of both direct private investment and through the International Fund for Ireland.