US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is to visit Ireland next week, the White House has confirmed.

Mrs Clinton will travel to Belfast on 7 December to meet officials, as well as discuss the peace process and investment opportunities.

She will attend a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and will deliver a major speech on US achievements in support of human rights globally in Dublin.

The trip to Ireland could be one of Mrs Clinton’s last foreign engagements as Secretary of State in Barack Obama’s administration, having publicly stated that she does not wish to serve a second term.

The visit is part of a four-day trip to Europe that will also take in the Czech Republic and Belgium.

As part of the Irish leg, Mrs Clinton plans to discuss the trilateral US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership and economic opportunities for Northern Ireland.

She will also take part in an event hosted by The Ireland Funds - a global fundraising network supporting programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education, and community development in Ireland.

Hillary and Bill Clinton visited Ireland three times during his time in office as president of the United States, from 1993 and 2001.

The most memorable was in 1995, when they turned on the Christmas lights in Belfast just a year after the first IRA ceasefire.

Mrs Clinton has also come to Northern Ireland without her husband.

In 1999 she gave a keynote address to a women's conference and in October 1997 gave the Tip O'Neill Memorial lecture at the University of Ulster's Magee campus in Co Derry.

She has also addressed the Northern Ireland Assembly.