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Irish economy can bounce back, assures Clinton

Ireland can bounce back from recession with a more diversified and less vulnerable economy, former US President Bill Clinton predicted today.

While urging people to rally together and not be discouraged, Mr Clinton said that if good choices are made the situation will improve.

Following an hour-long meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen the two-term President also praised Ireland's support for his global Aids foundation.

"I think you've saved your financial system; you have to deal with the budget crisis, but I believe that if good choices are made, what made you the fastest growing country in Europe is still there," Mr Clinton said.

"All the talents, all the abilities, all the incentives, they're still there. I have utterly no doubt that the country will come back and that you'll come back with a more diversified economy, less vulnerable than what just happened to you."

Mr Clinton said the situation would improve as long as we "hang together".

"It's a horrible time now, but you will get out of it, it will get better," he said.

The pair held face-to-face talks at Government Buildings in central Dublin where they discussed the wider economic situation and Ireland's work with the Clinton HIV/Aids Initiative.

Mr Cowen described the meeting as a wonderful and memorable occasion.

"The work we do with the Clinton Global Initiative has done huge work in many poor parts of the world where we have made a real difference, saving lives in the whole HIV/Aids campaign," Mr Cowen said.

The former US President praised Ireland's contribution to supporting his foundation.

"Those of us who keep up with these things are in awe that the Government and non-Governmental sector in Ireland have continued to care about the welfare of the truly dispossessed around the world while you're going through this horrible crisis."

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He said that support had helped save 167,000 lives in Mozambique.

"That ought to make people feel good in this country - that you can know that you did that," he said.

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