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Kelly welcomes deal, then dealmakers

And just days later, his was the welcoming hand for North leaders Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness as they arrived in the U.S. for St. Patrick's week festivities.

"The vote by the Northern Ireland Assembly builds on the important agreement that was announced last month, and I congratulate the Northern Ireland political leadership on this significant achievement," said Kelly.

"Building on this momentum, next week First Minister Robinson, Deputy First Minister McGuinness and Minister (Arlene) Foster will join me in the U.S. on a multi-city visit.

"They will meet with Secretary Clinton, the leaders of major U.S. Corporations and attend several large-scale events highlighting the investment opportunities in Northern Ireland. At the same time, over a dozen Northern Ireland companies will take part in a trade mission to the U.S. where they will meet with new potential trade partners," said Kelly.

Also in the U.S. this week is the North's social development minister and SDLP leader, Margaret Ritchie.

Ritchie is spending three days in New York and three in Washington, D.C. during which she will attend the White House St. Patrick's Day reception.

"There is still much more work to be done. The SDLP fully supports the devolution of policing and justice. However, once again we will place on record our deep unhappiness at the distortion of the democratic process to gerrymander the position of justice minister," said Ritchie, whose party is seeking a second ministry in the North Executive, though not necessarily the justice portfolio.

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