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Saturday 30 August 2014

Obama 'disappointed' with peace talks failure in Northern Ireland

Lise Hand in Washington DC

Published 14/03/2014 | 16:23

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President Barack Obama says he is "disappointed" with the failure of the Northern Ireland peace talks to resolve outstanding issues.

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Former American diplomat and US special envoy Dr. Richard Haass last year chaired six months of talks on flags, parades and NI's past, but the negotiations broke down in January.

Speaking after his meeting with the Taoiseach in the Oval Office, President Obama said: "I was disappointed, the US government was disappointed that the all-party talks did not arrive at a final conclusion and agreement, but we're urging the parties to continue to work at negotiations. I know that the good influence coming from Dublin will help to encourage them to move out of the past and to the kind of future that Northern Ireland so richly deserves," he said.

The US President praised the Irish government for trying to bring about a resolution to the continuing impasse. "We both share an interest in seeing Northern Ireland continue to take the next steps that are necessary to finally bring an end to what so often has been a tragic history," he said.

He also praised the Irish government's handling of the economic crisis, and praised Mr Kenny. "We appreciate Taoiseach Kenny being a strong leader," he said.

Other issues which were discussed during the 45 minute meeting included the progress of  legislative reform on immigration. After the meeting, the Taoiseach said that he and the US President "share the same view - we want this to happen it's something he has a passionate interest in. There is a feeling that something could move on this before the electoral process kicks in, though I can't confirm this."

He also said that he had raised the matter of the appointment of a new US ambassador to Ireland. It is fifteen months since Dan Rooney stepped down from the post. "He's intent on dealing with it, it's a matter exclusively for the President and we hope it can be dealt with pretty soon."

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