President Obama in Belfast on Monday praised the Northern Ireland peace process, calling it a “blueprint” to help resolve conflicts in other countries.
“For years, few conflicts in the world seemed more intractable than the one here in Northern Ireland. And when peace was achieved here, it gave the entire world hope,” said Obama in a speech at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall ahead of the G8 summit.
“We need you to get this right. And what’s more, you set an example for those who seek a peace of their own,” Obama continued. “You’re their blueprint to follow. You’re their proof of what is possible — because hope is contagious. They’re watching to see what you do next.”
Obama hailed the 15-year-old Good Friday Agreement and said that while tensions between Catholics and Protestants remained, the U.S. would work with Britain and Northern Ireland to promote peace.
“You should know that so long as you are moving forward, America will always stand by you as you do,” Obama said.
The president arrived in Belfast Monday morning and is headed for the three-day G8 summit at the Lough Erne resort.
The conference is likely to be dominated by efforts to reach a consensus on ending the civil war in Syria, progress over a U.S.-EU trade accord, and the latest disclosures of secret phone and Internet surveillance by the U.S. and U.K. intelligence communities.
Obama is slated to meet one-on-one with a number of world leaders later in the day, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and summit host British Prime Minister David Cameron.