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Tuesday, April 28, 1998 Published at 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK




Clinton 'unlikely' to visit N. Ireland
image: [ Bill Clinton has visited Northern Ireland before but not all the province's leaders want him back now ]
Bill Clinton has visited Northern Ireland before but not all the province's leaders want him back now

A visit to Northern Ireland by US President Bill Clinton, aimed at boosting the peace deal, has been thrown into doubt by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

After a visit by Jim Steinberg, America's deputy national security advisor, Mr Ahern told the Dublin parliament he did not think Mr Clinton would be in the province before May 22, the day set for peace accord referendums on both sides of the Irish border.

He added: "I am not too sure what will happen after that, it is unlikely in my view."

Mr Steinberg met top officials in Mr Ahern's office on Tuesday before reporting back to the White House.

A visit by Mr Clinton looked a strong possibility after agreement on Northern Ireland was reached in Belfast on Good Friday by the province's political leaders led by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mr Ahern.


[ image: Clinton said he would not come unless Blair and Ahern wanted him to]
Clinton said he would not come unless Blair and Ahern wanted him to
But the plan was quickly criticised by Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and his senior colleagues.

Last week, Mr Ahern stressed there had to be general agreement between the parties on a Clinton visit and warned against the risk of the trip creating "disharmony" in Northern Ireland.

Mr Clinton has previously visited the province and has held meetings with the leaders of Northern Ireland's main political parties in Washington. But he said a second trip would only go ahead with the consent of Mr Blair and Mr Ahern.

The US president will be in Britain next month for the annual G7 summit of the seven major industrialised nations.






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