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Bush pledges U.S. support

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Susan Falvella Garraty

WASHINGTON, D.C — President Bush made his strongest statement to date on the need for paramilitary arms decommissioning in Northern Ireland during his visit to Britain last week.

"Make no mistake about it, people shouldn’t have any doubt as to where my government stands," the president said while standing alongside British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a press conference.

"We stand strongly, side-by-side, with Britain when it comes to decommissioning in Northern Ireland. If there is anything I can do to help bring peace in the region, I will do so."

Bush reiterated his offer to be available by telephone to help end the current crisis.

Bush and Blair met the press at Halton, a Royal Air Force base 30 miles northwest of London. The president said he and Blair had spent a fair amount of time talking about Northern Ireland during their discussions.

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Since the talks, the British and Irish governments have reportedly finalized a game plan to keep the Good Friday accord on life support and the Bush administration will have one new hand available to assist in the next round of negotiations.

In contrast to the delay over confirmation of the nominated U.S. ambassador to Ireland, Richard Egan, William Farish was confirmed as ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland on July 11 by voice vote in the Senate.

Farish, well known in the horse racing world and a major contributor to the GOP, passed muster in the Senate despite concern expressed by Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that Farish’s knowledge of the peace process was minimal.

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