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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 12:39 GMT
Clinton calls on unionists to back Trimble
Bill Clinton and Bertie Ahern in Turkey

US President Bill Clinton has called on members of the Ulster Unionist Party to back their leader David Trimble.

Mr Clinton was speaking to reporters at the 54-nation summit in Turkey, where he had a private meeting with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

The US president said the compromise package to break the deadlock on devolution and paramilitary decommissioning brokered by George Mitchell meant that Northern Ireland was "on the verge of a successful peace".

David Trimble: Provided "clear leadership"
Singling out the Ulster Unionist leader for praise, Mr Clinton said he had provided "very strong and clear leadership".

"I don't think that he would be doing this if he didn't believe that ultimately all the provisions of the Good Friday accord would be honored.

"And I hope his party will stay with him, because he has been absolutely pivotal to this. And it's taken a lot of courage for him to take some of the decisions that he's taken," said Mr Clinton.

For the compromise deal to succeed Mr Trimble will have to overcome opposition from senior members of his own party, and win a key vote in the party's ruling council in a week's time.

Mr Ahern said the deal was "an opportunity which most people thought we'd never get".

"We have it now, it's for us to make it work," he said.

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See also:
19 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
Trimble wins support for peace strategy

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