Belfast Telegraph

First Ministers take stock on New York trip ahead of all-party talks

BY COLIN O'CARROLL

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have continued their mission to the US with a private meeting with diplomat Richard Haass.

Dr Haass is due to visit Northern Ireland later this month to chair all-party talks aimed at finding ways to deal with contentious issues such as the flying of flags and parading.

The two leaders are in the US to try and promote job creation and investment in Northern Ireland and have been meeting business and civic leaders.

They agreed to put aside their dispute over the Maze peace and reconciliation centre for the duration of their trade mission.

The two leaders have met senior figures at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street and also outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

They also caught up with Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the peace talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement, at an American Ireland Fund event in New York.

Senator Mitchell revealed he had been talking to Dr Haass in advance of his mission.

He praised Dr Haass as "a very able man".

Dr Haas said last night that he wanted people to come forward and propose ideas.

The US envoy also intimated that he didn't think the protests and violence surrounding the flag issue and parading over the summer had poisoned the atmosphere before the talks and was hopeful of a positive approach.

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