Obama pledges to help 'build an enduring peace' in the North
US President Barack Obama has pledged to support efforts to "build an enduring peace" in Northern Ireland as he prepares to visit for the G8 summit.
He hailed the progress made since the Good Friday Agreement was signed 15 years ago and said that the North had "travelled a great distance since then".
Although the agreement was signed in Belfast on April 10, 1998, Mr Obama said Good Friday was an appropriate date to remember its importance and the steps taken in the peace process since then.
In a statement last night, Mr Obama said: "They have traded bullets for ballots, destruction and division for dialogue and institutions, and pointed the way toward a shared future for all.
"There is urgent work still to be done – and there will be more tests to come. There are still those few who prefer to look backward rather than forward – who prefer to inspire hate rather than hope. The many who have brought Northern Ireland this far must keep rejecting their call."
Mr Obama will visit the North this summer when he attends the G8 Summit in Fermanagh.
He said: "On behalf of the American people, I salute the people and leaders of Northern Ireland and the model they have given to others struggling toward peace and reconciliation around the world.
"That is the message I will carry with me when I visit Northern Ireland and attend the G8 Summit in June."
The summit in Lough Erne on June 17-18 will be one of the most high-profile events ever held in Northern Ireland.
It will be the 39th meeting of major world leaders in a series that dates back to 1976.