Bush: Protestants and Catholics must set an example
George Bush has endorsed Britainís new peace proposals for Northern Ireland and called on Protestants and Catholics to set an example of peacemaking for the world.
Bush and Blair devoted the final two hours of their two-day summit on Iraq to discussing Northern Ireland.
They met Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and Northern Ireland parties that back the Good Friday Agreement, signed in 1998.
"This is a historic moment and I ask all the communities of Northern Ireland to seize this opportunity for peace," Bush said at a press conference with Blair at Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast.
"When the peace process is successful here, it will send a really important signal to other parts of the world. It will confirm the fact that people who have a vision for peace can see that vision become a reality."
After talking over lunch, Bush, Blair and Ahern issued a statement hinting at the key goals being sought in the new plan to be released on Thursday - the fifth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
The new proposals, they said; "hold out the prospect of enormous progress".
"They reflect our shared view that there can be no place in Northern Ireland for paramilitary activity and capability. The break with paramilitarism in all its past forms must be complete and irrevocable."
The new plans, which are supposed to be presented jointly by Blair and Ahern, are expected to require the IRA to resume disarming - a process begun in October 2001 but halted in April 2002 - and to issue a new statement renouncing violence.
Sinn Fein would be required to join civilian boards that have overseen police reform for the past year.
In return the Ulster Unionists, would be required to resume power-sharing with Sinn Fein.
Britain would commit to additional troop withdrawals, new human rights legislation and tougher plans for reforming the police.