Belfast Telegraph

Clinton promotes economic strategy

Former US president Bill Clinton has outlined an imaginative economic strategy to lift Northern Ireland from its current economic woes.

While the 64-year-old statesman acknowledged the financial situation in the region was not good, he said he would far rather wrestle with those problems than the bloodshed and violence of the Troubles.

Delivering a keynote address at the University of Ulster in Londonderry, Mr Clinton pointed to a number of sectors that he believed could drive the region's economic recovery, including fish farming, arts and crafts and tourism.

He also stressed the importance of moving toward sustainable energy sources and attracting more foreign investors to set up roots in the area.

Mr Clinton has been a regular in Northern Ireland since he was greeted by tens of thousands of well-wishers when he first visited as president at the height of the peace process in 1995.

"I realise that to many people it is not as emotionally satisfying to discuss this as to talk about the peace in 1995," he said on his sixth trip to the region.

"This is what the peace is about - about giving the people the chance to live responsible normal lives.

"It was a really nice ride for a long time then, just like everybody's life, there are bumps in the road. This is also part of living a peaceful life, facing the tough times, facing the crisis and facing it together."

Mr Clinton's speech at the university's Magee campus comes ahead of a planned US-Northern Ireland economic conference in Washington next month hosted by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The event will bring 24 major American companies together to hear about the opportunities available to them in the north of Ireland.

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