27/10/2015

Minister For Foreign Affairs Begins Five-Day US Visit

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, has begun a five-day visit to the United States during which he will address the UN General Assembly and meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York.

The Minister will also meet in Washington with a range of senior US political contacts with whom latest developments in Northern Ireland will be the main focus.

Minister Flanagan will address the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, 01 October and lay out Ireland’s perspective on a range of foreign policy challenges including disarmament, peace-keeping and human rights. Later that day he will hold a bilateral meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. SG Ban visited Ireland in May and launched ‘UN60’, a programme of events making 60 years of Ireland’s membership of the UN.

The Minister will launch a major Royal Irish Academy exhibition, making UN60 on Sunday, 27 September. Other UN elements of the Minister’s programme include attendance at major UN summits on Peacekeeping Operations and Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism convened by President Obama on Monday, 28 and Tuesday 29 and a series of bilateral meetings with foreign ministers.

Speaking ahead of his departure, Minister Flanagan: "In my address to the UN General Assembly, I will underline that ongoing conflicts and new types of threats are creating humanitarian crises and situations of instability, poverty and mass displacement around the world. I will emphasise that in these difficult times, the need for stronger leadership from the United Nations has never been more critical.

"I will also welcome commitments which will be made by countries that are new to or re-engaging in UN peacekeeping. These will complement the activities of longstanding peacekeeping contributors like Ireland which has a distinguished record of service in this area. We will continue to play our part in this regard.

"While Ireland is this year reflecting on what has been achieved over 60 years of UN membership, we are also looking towards the future of our place on the world stage. Active and engaged young people will be central to Ireland’s continued contribution to peace and security, human rights and development. In this context, am delighted our first ever UN Youth Delegates, Eoin Ó Liatháin from Dublin and Orla Murphy from Cork, will be with us in New York over the coming days.

"This is a particularly significant week in New York for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which Ireland, together with Kenya, was responsible for leading the negotiations. This responsibility was a reflection of the high regard in which Ireland’s work in the development field is held".

In Washington on Wednesday 30 September, Minister Flanagan’s will have a series of meetings with Senator Patrick Leahyand prominent US Congressmen including Joe Kennedy, Paul Ryan, Jim Sensenbrenner and Richard Neal. He will also address the Congressional Friends of Ireland group and Irish-American community leaders. These exchanges will focus in particular on Northern Ireland, with Minister Flanagan briefing on latest developments in the ongoing talks process.

Prospects for U.S. immigration reform, trade and cultural links between the U.S. and Ireland and 2016 commemoration events in the U.S. will also be discussed. Later that afternoon, the Minister will attend a special event in Washington to highlight and promote the work of the International Fund for Ireland.

Minister Flanagan also stressed the importance and value of continued U.S. support in relation to developments in Northern Ireland:

"I value greatly the active involvement and good counsel of Senator Gary Hart and the U.S. Administration at this important time. I look forward to my meetings with senior Administration officials, with our contacts on Capitol Hill and with the Irish-American community and other friends of Ireland."

(MH/CD)

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