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On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Wales as you celebrate St. David’s Day this March 1. This special occasion celebrates the rich history and culture of the Welsh people.

The United States is enriched by years of influence from Welsh-Americans. The friendship between our two countries dates back to the early 1700s and nearly 2 million people living in the United States today have Welsh ancestry. Iconic authors, philanthropists and statesmen of Welsh descent have helped shape the history of the United States. This relationship continues today as we work on areas of mutual interest and shared ideals.

The United States and Wales benefit from commercial and educational exchanges, strengthening this already robust relationship. We look forward to deepening these connections, increasing prosperity and continuing our efforts to promote peace around the world.

As you celebrate St. David’s Day, know that the United States stands with you as we work toward a better future for all our people.

 

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It was businesslike, if not actually downbeat, and only lasted 20 minutes.

And yet today’s vote in the Assembly was one of those rare moments when politicians of all parties put aside their differences and voted unanimously. Rare enough to be described as ‘historic’ by several AMs and ‘significant’ by others.

They were voting on a motion which kickstarts the legislative journey of the long-awaited referendum which, in the event of a Yes vote, would streamline the Assembly’s ability to make laws.

There had to be consensus though because today’s vote required a higher-than-usual majority in the Senedd chamber; at least 40 of the 60 AMs had to agree.

And agreement hasn’t always been on the cards as the First Minister Carwyn Jones alluded to when he said ‘I think it’s fair to say it’s not been an easy journey to get to this point’.’

But there has to be a lot more agreement won yet. Both houses of parliament must give their approval and then the Queen must give her gloved thumbs up in a meeting of the Privy Council not expected until mid December.

So how close are we to seeing official Yes and No campaigns up and running? Some distance yet, it seems.

I gather Yes and No campaigners have been invited to meet the Electoral Commission on Friday (in separate meetings!) to find out more about becoming the official campaign on either side of the argument.

Whichever is designated ‘lead campaign’ will get £70,000 from the Electoral Commission to set up offices and hire staff.

But that decision won’t be taken until mid-January, leaving just four or five weeks for the official campaigns to persuade the people of Wales to vote Yes or No.

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