Belfast Telegraph

President Barack Obama to meet the people of Belfast before G8 summit

By Claire Cromie and Lesley-Anne McKeown

President Barack Obama will visit Belfast before the G8 Summit next month.

A White House spokesman has confirmed the US President's trip to Northern Ireland will begin in Belfast, where he will "engage" with the public.

A statement said: "He will engage with the people of Northern Ireland and highlight the hard work, dialogue, and institutional development they have undertaken together."

The President will then attend the G8 Summit at Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron, from June 17 to 18.

He will reinforce the importance of transatlantic ties, consult on shared security challenges and discuss the global economy.

Obama's spokesman added: "The summit and related meetings will provide the President and his fellow world leaders an opportunity to address pressing economic, political, and security challenges around the globe and to promote the advancement of trade and greater transparency among G8 members and the developing world."

First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Northern Ireland with her husband, but it is not known if she will accompany him to Belfast. The White House said additional details "will be forthcoming".

It will be President Obama's first time in Northern Ireland.

Two years ago he travelled to the Republic for a state visit which took in Dublin and Moneygall in County Offaly - the birthplace of the his great-great-great-grandfather.

Former president George Bush flew into Northern Ireland for a one-day visit in June 2008. He met with the First and Deputy First Ministers and stopped at an integrated primary school to meet pupils and some of the champions of integrated education.

His presence was met with demonstrations from several hundred protesters who took to the streets to voice their opposition to the Iraq war.

In November 1995 - a year after the first IRA ceasefire was called - thousands of people lined the streets of Belfast city centre to watch the then US President Bill Clinton turn on the Christmas lights.

Mr Clinton and his wife Hillary were heavily involved in the peace process and came to Belfast three times during the 1990s.

Last year Mrs Clinton toured the new multi-million pound Titanic museum as one of her last duties before stepping down as US Secretary of State.

Mr Obama is among eight world leaders jetting into Northern Ireland for the G8 conference.

Following the G8, the President will travel to Berlin for an official visit to reaffirm the strong ties between the United States and Germany.

There he will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck to discuss a wide range of bilateral and global issues including opportunities to further deepen transatlantic relations.


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