New US consul pledges to boost economic ties with Northern Ireland
The new US consul to Northern Ireland pledged to strengthen economic relations across the Atlantic as he met Stormont's leaders.
Daniel Lawton has taken over from Greg Burton as the Washington administration's representative in Belfast.
After meeting First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Mr Lawton said: " I am honoured to serve as the US consul general in Northern Ireland.
"The United States enjoys long-standing, broad, and deep ties to Northern Ireland. Political progress here has strengthened our mutually beneficial economic relations. I look forward to working with the government and people of Northern Ireland to further our engagement and co-operation."
Mr Lawton was previously deputy director of the Office of Southern European Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the US Department of State.
The married father-of-two from New York State has also held diplomatic posts in Athens, Caracas, Copenhagen, Lima, Karachi and Mexico City.
Mr Robinson welcomed the appointment.
He said: "I look forward to working with Daniel across a range of areas of mutual interest.
"Although there may be great differences in scale between the Unites States and Northern Ireland there are many potential opportunities for partnership and growth.
"We will work closely with Daniel and his team at the consulate, building on the work of his predecessor Greg Burton to develop economic relations so all the people of Northern Ireland can prosper."
Mr McGuinness said: "Today provided a useful opportunity to welcome US consul Daniel Lawton to Belfast.
"The United States has had a diplomatic presence in Belfast since 1796 so the relationship is not only well-established but one that is always supportive and progressive.
"There is an unbreakable bond between the US and the North of Ireland and I look forward to working with Daniel as we continue to work hard to create jobs and improve the quality of life for all our people."