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Burundi president: Ulster peace can help my country

Published 04/04/2008

The President of Burundi has told how the lessons of peace from Northern Ireland can help his country rebuild after civil war.

Pierre Nkurunziza accompanied The Lord Mayor of Belfast on a walk through the city centre as part of a four day visit.

He talked to shoppers on Donegall Place and read a copy of the Belfast Telegraph.

The President is in Northern Ireland to learn about peace and reconciliation.

Burundi, in east Africa, is undergoing a peace building process following twelve years of civil war between the Hutu majority and Tutsi minority groups.

Mr Nkurunziza said: "It is very good to see the conciliation in this country and I am pleased to be received here to share the experiences of our countries.

"Burundi is also a post-conflict country and the visit has helped us because we have a programme like yours."

The President asked The Lord Mayor about the possibility of Burundian capital Bujumbura being twinned with Belfast.

Jim Rodgers said: "The council will have a look at this to see if we want to build up a proper relationship. I think it's important to retain a relationship so we can learn from each other and hopefully get new ideas to introduce here in Belfast."

He added that it was "a tremendous honour" to have the President visit the city.

The President met Northern Ireland's First Minister Ian Paisley and William Hay MLA at Parliament Buildings yesterday.

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