July 28, 2005

U.S. encouraged by IRA N.Ireland statement: envoy

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States is encouraged by the
Irish Republican Army's pledge on Thursday to end armed actions
in Northern Ireland and believes the words will prove historic
if translated into deeds, a U.S. envoy said.

Mitchell Reiss, President Bush's special envoy for Northern
Ireland, told CNN: "The statement is very encouraging, it's
potentially historic, and we need to wait and see over the next
weeks and months if these words can be translated into deeds to
determine if it is truly historic."

The envoy, who has the leading U.S. role in Northern
Ireland peacemaking, said: "I am hopeful there will be a major
act of decommissioning, an end to all the arms that the IRA
has, in the next few weeks if not sooner."

He said he understood that retired Canadian General John de
Chastelain, head of an international disarmament body, was in
Ireland and had been in touch with IRA representatives.

"I think what we need to see is the quality of the
statement that comes out of de Chastelain. Is he going to be
happy with what he witnesses in terms of the dumping of all
arms? That's going to be quite important."

Reiss said there were several mechanisms in place to verify
it. "Nobody is willing to take this on trust at this point," he
said from the United States.

He said Washington would go on working with all sides.

"We have been closely coordinating and in contact with all
the political parties in Northern Ireland and the two
governments, especially in the last few weeks as we've had the
run-up to today's statement.

"We are going to continue to work with all the parties.
I've already been in phone contact with the major leaders. I'll
be traveling to the region in the next few weeks."