The United States is holding out the possibility of increased economic aid for Northern Ireland to help cement the cease-fire the Irish Republican Army is offering after 24 years of violent resistance to British rule.
The Clinton administration has made no promises, and the specific outline of an aid package remained unclear Wednesday.But the Irish Republic is dispatching Deputy Prime Minister Dick Spring to Martha's Vineyard, President Clinton's vacation island off Cape Cod, to discuss on Friday the prospects for peace and for an aid package to help keep it glued together.
"I think we're looking for ways to certainly facilitate and encourage the peace process . . . including facilitating economic development," White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers said.
White House aides said that while no commitments have been made, it was likely Clinton will approve an aid package.
Myers noted the United States already contributes $20 million a year to the International Fund for Ireland for projects on both sides of the north-south border that divides Ireland.
And she said that while there were no plans for a summit with the nations and parties involved, "I certainly wouldn't rule it out at some point in the future."
Clinton caused a stir in Britain when he pledged during the 1992 presidential campaign to send a peace envoy to Ireland. The British government has resisted outside involvement in what it considers an internal matter.