Bill Clinton 'set to meet Arlene Foster' in Belfast

Former US president Bill Clinton has flown into Belfast for a number private engagements.

It is understood Mr Clinton is meeting Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster and will make an announcement about a new educational initiative in her home constituency of Fermanagh.

The visit comes after the US statesman received an honorary degree in Dublin.

He was due to fly to the North on Monday but the trip was postponed due to Storm Ophelia.

It is understood Mr Clinton will announce an academic link-up with universities on both sides of the Atlantic that will see the re-opening of a centre already named in his honour in Enniskillen.

Since his first visit to the North in 1995 Mr Clinton has been the most high-profile international champion of the peace process.

Three visits while he was US president and several since he left office have underlined his stated commitment to being an enabler of compromise.

However he has also taken on the role of exerting pressure on both sides when political progress seemed to have stalled.

During his most recent visit earlier this year for the funeral of Martin McGuinness, he urged party leaders to complete the work of the former IRA commander turned politician, and to restore powersharing.

The Stormont government collapsed in January after the resignation of Mr McGuinness as deputy first minister, in a row over the DUP's handling of a botched renewable heat energy scheme.

Months of talks aimed at restoring powersharing have so far failed, with Sinn Fein and the DUP unable to reach agreement on a number of key areas, including an Irish Language Act and legacy issues.


 

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