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Saturday 25 January 2020

Kerry flies in to pick up award for peace

US Secretary of State John Kerry Photo: Brad Barket/Invision/AP
US Secretary of State John Kerry Photo: Brad Barket/Invision/AP

Ralph Riegel

US Secretary of State John Kerry will receive the prestigious Tipperary International Peace Award at a gala ceremony today.

Mr Kerry will be welcomed to Ireland by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan amid tight security provided by armed Garda units and the US Secret Service.

The two men will stage a bilateral meeting at which the UK's Brexit decision will dominate discussions, before they attend the awards event in the Glen of Aherlow.

The US had urged the UK to remain within the EU and Mr Flanagan is expected to focus on the implications for the Republic and Northern Ireland of a hard Brexit, which could involve changes to arrangements around cross-border trade.

Other issues expected to be raised include immigration and the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Mr Flanagan, speaking ahead of the discussions, said he was delighted by the visit.

He added: "While I have had the opportunity to meet with Secretary of State Kerry on several occasions, this is my first opportunity to welcome him to Ireland, and to the beautiful Glen of Aherlow, for bilateral discussions.

"We will be discussing developments in the Northern Ireland peace process, and I'm pleased Secretary Kerry will be joined at the meeting by Senator Gary Hart, his special envoy to Northern Ireland.

"We will also talk about the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and will be discussing developments in the Middle East, specifically in Syria.

"As regards bilateral issues between Ireland and the US, I intend raising the issue of immigration reform in the US, including relief for the undocumented Irish and greater opportunities for Irish citizens to migrate to the US."

Mr Kerry has been US secretary of state for the past four years. He has been recognised by the peace convention for his work to bring an end to conflicts around the world.

Previous recipients include the former South African president Nelson Mandela, secretary general of the UN Ban Ki-moon, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, and Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof.

Sunday Independent

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