U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has praised the peace process in Northern Ireland, saying it serves as an example for other conflict areas that bitter enemies can resolve differences peacefully. Secretary Clinton was addressing the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast, during a stop during her five-day trip to Europe and Russia.
Speaking to a packed chamber at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly, Hillary Clinton praised lawmakers for progress made in a long and often arduous peace process.
"Today, Northern Ireland stands as an example to the world of how even the staunchest adversaries can overcome differences to work together for the common and greater good," she said.
For decades Northern Ireland was engulfed in sectarian violence, in which nearly 4,000 people were killed. It pitted the mostly Catholic Republicans, who want Northern Ireland free of British rule, against the predominantly protestant Unionists, who want to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Mrs. Clinton's husband, President Bill Clinton helped mediate a peace deal, the Good Friday Accord, in 1998. And, in May 2007 a new power-sharing government took over administration of Northern Ireland with bitter foes agreeing to sit together.
Since then, disagreements and suspicion have often kept the two sides from moving forward.
Secretary Clinton said no doubt progress had been difficult and divisions remain, but she urged the lawmakers to keep moving ahead.
"Even today many Catholics and Protestants live segregated lives; separate schools, separate neighborhoods, some still divided by walls. But given time and given the leadership that each of you can provide, the torn fabric of society will be woven together, stitch by stitch, choice by choice," she said.
Secretary Clinton warned against those seeking to disrupt the peace process, referring to dissident republicans who killed two British soldiers and a policeman earlier this year.
Clinton's visit to Europe began Saturday in Zurich, Switzerland to attend another reconciliation meeting - between long-time enemies Turkey and Armenia. The two countries agreed to establish diplomatic ties and re-open their borders.
Hostilities between them stem from the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces during and after World War One.
Clinton also held talks in London, where Iran and Afghanistan figured prominently. She said the United States and others are willing to listen to Iran, but she warned patience would not last forever.
In an interview on British radio, Clinton said Washington remains committed to the goals set out for Afghanistan, but she also said much more is expected of the Afghan government.
Secretary Clinton heads to Moscow for talks with Russian leaders.