Today, Secretary Clinton met with Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin. Secretary Clinton said, "I am delighted to be standing here with the foreign minister. Because of our personal relationship and because of the close relationship between our two countries, we always look forward to these visits. And I'm also going to be meeting later with other friends and particularly looking forward to seeing the Taoiseach tonight at the American-Ireland Fund gala. It may go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that the United States and Ireland have a close historic, cultural, familial relationship. Millions of Americans trace their ancestry back to Ireland and are very proud to do so, not just on St. Patrick's Day but all year long."
The Secretary continued, "On March 9th, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to complete the process of devolution, an important step toward realizing the promise of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement, and achieving a full and lasting peace for the people of Northern Ireland. Foreign Minister Martin and his government played a vital role in helping the parties come together to take this step. I know for a fact that he was there for long days and sleepless nights during the Hillsborough negotiations because I spoke to him during the two-to-three-hour a.m. period during one of those nights.
"And I know that he and the Taoiseach and not only the government but the people of Ireland will continue to support the leaders of Northern Ireland as they shoulder these new responsibilities. So I thank you, Minister, for your leadership and persistence, and we will be discussing the way forward, as we just have in our meeting, during today and tomorrow, as well as a range of other issues of common concern.
"I am particularly looking forward to the upcoming Millennium Development Goals summit in September around the time of the United Nations General Assembly. The United States and Ireland have agreed to co-host a sidelines event highlighting global hunger, food security, and nutrition. I want to commend Ireland for its commitment to devoting 20 percent of its assistance budget to meet the urgent challenge of global hunger. This is a priority for both of our governments, but it's a historical passion and cause for Ireland.
"Ireland is already helping to increase food security in Malawi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and other places. They are targeting maternal and infant malnutrition. Ireland's great famine looms large in the history of both of our countries, and we understand what a destabilizing and destructive force hunger still is in too many places around our globe. And I appreciate, particularly during these very difficult economic times, the commitment and generosity of the Irish people. On this and so many other fronts, Ireland is a valued partner."
Read the Secretary's full remarks here.