Published Saturday, 07 September 2013
Dr Richard Haass, with Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness. (© UTV)
The former US envoy is coming to Northern Ireland to chair all-party discussions on contentious subjects such as parades, flags and emblems and dealing with the past.
Ms Villiers explained that while the UK government is not directly involved in the process, it is "very supportive" of it and has "direct interest" in the outcomes.
Speaking on Friday evening, she said: "The most obvious reason is that we want these talks to be successful because that would improve life for people in Northern Ireland, strengthen the economy and make it easier to combat the threat from dissident republicans.
"But it's also worth remembering that parading and some elements of the rules on flags are currently matters for Westminster. So if changes are proposed by the Haass group, they would need the support of the government if they are to be implemented."
Dr Haass was picked by the Executive to lead the talks on some of NI's thorniest issues.
It comes on the back of a contentious marching season and the unrest which followed the removal of the Union Flag from Belfast City Hall in December - a decision which cost millions to police and proved how divisive flags and emblems can be.
Ms Villiers said the job ahead will not be easy.
She continued: "It is vital that the Haass work takes place alongside real progress on other crucial issues on reconciliation and social cohesion and on the economy.
"Richard Haass and his group have an immensely difficult task ahead of them. Whether they will succeed is something we can't yet know for certain."
© UTV News