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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 02:33 GMT 03:33 UK
Bush welcomes IRA arms move
George Bush
George Bush: Thanks Gen de Chastelain for his efforts
American president George Bush has welcomed the IRA's decision to begin decommissioning its weapons.

He said the move was an historic step by the IRA.

"The people of Northern Ireland are now measurably closer to the lasting peace which they richly deserve."

President Bush said he now wanted to see all paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland move towards total decommissioning leading to the "full functioning" of the Good Friday Agreement.


I express my heartfelt appreciation to General de Chastelain for his continuing efforts in support of the peace process

George Bush
He also paid tribute to General John de Chastelain, the chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

"I know I speak for all Americans when I express my heartfelt appreciation to General de Chastelain for his continuing efforts in support of the peace process."

The United States' Special Envoy to Ireland Richard Haas also welcomed the IRA's move.

Speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight programme, he said: "This is something that Republicans and Democrats have worked for in this country for years, and we are extraordinarily pleased for the people of Northern Ireland.

"Our hats also go off to the British and Irish Governments for playing such a useful role behind the scenes in helping to bring this about," he added.

Mr Haas said the announcement paved the way for real peace in Northern Ireland.

"We hope it is responded to in a very positive and generous way and people take advantage of the opportunity that this has brought about," he said.


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23 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
'Significant' IRA arms move praised
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