Former US Democrat presidential candidate Gary Hart will begin discussions next week with the Irish and British governments in what is being viewed as a bid to restart peace talks in the North.
The Irish Examiner has learnt that the former US senator has been asked by US Secretary of State John Kerry to take an informal role in the peace process.
Last New Year’s Eve, talks under Richard Haass broke down without agreement.
Government sources confirmed last night that the senator will meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan next Wednesday.
A source said: “This will give the minister an opportunity to engage with him, giving him a sense of our concerns on the current situation in the North and an opportunity to register appreciation for continuing US interest.”
It was also confirmed last night that the North’s deputy first minister Martin McGuinness will meet Mr Hart on Thursday, with contentious issues regarding flags, parades, and outstanding issues for republicans expected to be discussed.
Mr Hart served as a US senator representing Colorado from 1975 to 1987. He sought the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1984 and again in 1988.
Political leaders at Stormont have failed to move forward since the Haass talks broke down.
During an acceptance speech for an international peace award in June, Dr Haass urged politicians in the North to show leadership and finish the job.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
More in this section