September 7, 1994
SHANNON, Ireland (AP) -- Vice President Al Gore met with Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds today and said the Clinton administration is considering an expanded assistance package for Ireland.
The vice president also urged that an IRA cease-fire declaration be allowed to speak for itself as warring factions work to end a 25-year conflict.
British Prime Minister John Major, among others, has expressed a wish for more assurance that the cease-fire will be permanent.
After a brief meeting with Reynolds, Gore said those who question the IRA's intentions should "put great stock in the interpretation" of Reynolds, who has said he is convinced the IRA wants a permanent cease-fire.
"The (IRA) statement about the nature of the cease-fire ... speaks for itself" Gore said, adding that he would not attempt to interpret it further because he did not want to become the "political equivalent" of a dictionary.
He called on Northern Ireland's protestants to join the peace process, saying they can count on Reynolds.
"He is a man of his word, totally," said Gore. "I would encourage anyone to feel totally confident and secure in the good faith of the efforts he puts forward."
Gore said peace in Northern Ireland is "right at the top" of the Clinton's agenda. "The American people have a dream that this peace process will proceed."
For his part, Reynolds said the United States played a "very, very significant" role in bringing peace process forward.
Earlier, Gore said financial assistance
"has already been important in providing a basis for hope that peace will result in new opportunities throughout the island."
Gore said the administration is thinking about asking Congress to approve a package that could include building on the $20 million a year already provided to the International Fund for Ireland, providing democracy-building assistance through the National Democratic Institute and seeking ways to promote private sector investment on the island.
In an interview on Air Force Two as he flew from a population conference in Egypt, Gore described the Clinton administration as an active player over many months in promoting the peace process.
He cited a series of discussions between President Clinton or his deputies with -- among others -- James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and a key protestant politician in Northern Ireland, and John Hume, head of Northern Ireland's main Roman Catholic party and a longtime friend of Gore.
Gore said in the airborne interview that it was premature to declare aid to Northern Ireland a done deal, but indicated it was highly likely and said the administration would
"assess the results of our consultations with Congress and with all the leaders in this process."
Asked about rumors that Gerry Adams, leader of the IRA's political arm. would be returning to the United States, Gore said Adams has not sought a visa.
Adams, head of Sinn Fein, the political party allied with the IRA, visited the United States after the Clinton administration granted him a visa in February, overturning a longstanding State Department position.
Reynolds sought the meeting as one of a series of high-level contacts concerning the movement toward peace in Northern Ireland.
Although the cease-fire has opened the door to historic talks between long warring sides, Protestant partisans are resisting the pact and violent attacks by Protestant militias against minority Roman Catholics have continued.
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