Obama to visit Belfast ahead of G8

Obama to visit Belfast ahead of G8

US President Barack Obama will begin his trip to Northern Ireland for the G8 summit in Belfast, the White House has confirmed.

The summit on 17 and 18 June is being hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron at Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh and will be attended by some of the world's most powerful leaders.

Both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will make the trip to Northern Ireland.

"The President's trip will begin in Belfast, where he will engage with the people of Northern Ireland and highlight the hard work, dialogue, and institutional development they have undertaken together," a statement said.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers confirmed that Army troops and thousands of police officers from across Britain will be drafted in to assist the PSNI during the G8.

Thousands of protestors are expected to descend on Northern Ireland, with demonstrations likely in both Belfast and Fermanagh.

The military will be providing assistance to the PSNI, as is normal with events of this scale.

Theresa Villiers, NI Secretary

According to President Obama's press secretary, the summit will provide world leaders with an opportunity to "address pressing economic, political, and security challenges around the globe and to promote the advancement of trade and greater transparency among G8 members and the developing world."

The trip will be President Obama's first to Northern Ireland. Two years ago, he travelled to the Republic of Ireland and visited both Dublin and his ancestral home of Moneygall in Co Offaly.

The visit will also be the first by a US President since George Bush travelled to Belfast in 2008.

Previously, Bill and Hillary Clinton had been fairly frequent visitors to Northern Ireland - making three visits in the 1990s to show their support for the peace process.

Following the G8, President Obama will travel to Germany at the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

© UTV

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