Irish Republican News · February 25, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
John Edwards's statement on Ireland

U.S. presidential contender John Edwards has pledged his support for the Good Friday Agreement in a statement ahead of next week's primaries for the candidacy of the Democratic Party.

The North Carolina senator, who is challenging Senator John Kerry, said in his statement that Ireland was one of America's most crucial allies in Europe.

As the current president of the European Union, Mr Edwards said that Ireland had a historic opportunity to help set the direction for Europe for years to come.

"I will work hard to support a strong US-Ireland relationship, and look forward to making an official visit to Ireland," Mr Edwards said in the statement released by his campaign headquarters.

"I am a strong supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process, and believe that the US has a vital role to play," Mr Edwards' s statement said.

He pointed to "historic strides" by the former Clinton administration in helping the peace process move forward, an effort that had culminated with the peace talks "so ably" chaired by Senator George Mitchell, and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

"The Good Friday Agreement provides the framework for the way forward for all the people of Northern Ireland and I support its full implementation," the statement said.

He added that he regretted that the agreement had stalled.

"Trust has broken down. With negotiations between the two sides under way, including the participation of Tony Blair, I am hopeful that the parties are on a path to get the process moving again," the senator said.

"I encourage all the parties to take the necessary steps for peace, which must include the end of paramilitary violence, demilitarisation, and the enactment of justice and equality laws that serve all the people of Northern Ireland.

"For the United States, I believe we need to continue to be an honest broker and to support the parties and the two governments bridge their differences," he said.

Mr Edwards was the last of the more prominent Democratic contenders to issue a statement on Ireland.

Analysts have said that the Kerry statement was stronger than his Democratic rival's and took particular aim at President Bush's handling of the peace process which, according to Kerry, did not match up well with President Clinton's record.

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