Obama quotes Yeats in Belfast: "Peace comes dropping slow"

US president Barack Obama has just concluded a powerful, but reserved speech at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast ahead of the G8 summit.

Speaking to an audience mainly consisting of teenagers, the president said that social and economic progress from here largely rests on their shoulders - to keep pushing their leaders and to "create a space for them to change attitudes".

The president also looked back at the history of Northern Ireland and of the US, noting that the success of Northern Ireland in overcoming a conflict that seemed “intractable” and achieving a hard-won peace was inspiring, but that there is still work to do to break down walls.

Quoting famous Irish literary figures, the president said, “peace comes dropping slow” (Yeats) and, “a bullet need happen only once, but for peace to work, we need to be reminded of its existence again and again and again” (Colum McCann). Although he did not reference Syria, his choice of words reflect the line he will likely take on the issue during talks with leaders later.