Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in Washington DC meeting

Gerry Adams Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gerry Adams has travelled to America for St Patrick's Day

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has met US congressional leaders on St Patrick's Day in Washington DC.

The US State Department said the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, Julieta Valls Noyes, would meet Mr Adams.

She has also met SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt.

The State Department postponed Mr Adams' meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken because of Stormont's crisis over welfare reform.

The State Department said: "Given the ongoing efforts to reach a durable accord on welfare reform to get implementation of the Stormont House agreement back on track, we postponed all of Deputy Secretary Blinken's meetings with Northern Ireland officials until such agreement is reached.

"This included meetings with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, as well as Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, who determined that the best course of action would be to postpone their travel to Washington and continue negotiations in Belfast."

In Washington, Mr Adams discussed the Stormont House Agreement and Pat Finucane during his meeting, which he described as "useful and positive".

At the weekend, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness cancelled plans to go to the US to meet President Obama on St Patrick's Day.

Last week, Sinn Féin withdrew support for the welfare reform bill at Stormont.

In a statement issued at that time, former US senator Gary Hart urged all parties to reach an understanding on the scope of the Stormont House Agreement "so that a successful series of meetings planned for St Patrick's Day can go forward as planned in Washington".

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