NI Secretary James Brokenshire embarks on US trip

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James BrokenshireImage source, PA

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire is embarking on a three-day visit to Washington and New York.

Mr Brokenshire said he will brief politicians and business leaders in the United States on the political situation in Northern Ireland.

He is expected to hold bilateral meetings with senior political figures.

These will include Conrad Tribble of the US State Department and the US vice-president's national security advisor Andrea Thompson.

Former US Senator George Mitchell and various members of Congress will also be updated on the government's priorities in Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Mr Brokenshire said that his visit "takes place against a backdrop of political stalemate in Northern Ireland".

'Direct investment'

However, he said it was a "timely opportunity to brief members of the US administration, who throughout history have done so much to support our efforts in moving forward the political process, on the current situation".

"I also want to reassure them that the UK government is determined to see devolved, power-sharing government restored," he added.

Mr Brokenshire will also discuss the "continued need for strong foreign direct investment" into Northern Ireland and to "offer reassurance on current issues including the UK's exit from the European Union".

During a reception at the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington on Monday evening, he is expected to "praise the expertise and capabilities of Northern Ireland firms".

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government since January, when the coalition led by the two biggest parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin, collapsed over a green energy scandal.