Boston and Belfast will soon become sister cities, according to a report by the Belfast Telegraph.
The leader of the city in Northern Ireland, Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh plan to officially sign a memorandum next month to establish the pact.
The arrangement will “explore academic, business and cultural links between the two cities,” the Telegraph reported.
The two mayors agreed verbally to become sister cities in March when Muilleoir visited Boston.
Muilleoir, who wrote about the deal briefly on his official blog, told the Telegraph: “Boston is the university capital of the world, the Silicon Valley of Life Sciences and the hub of Irish America. This is a coup for Belfast as the fastest-growing knowledge economy in Europe, and as a city at the forefront of the world at peace building, we have much to offer Boston also.”
Walsh’s spokeswoman Kate Norton sad in a statetment that: “Since taking office, Mayor Walsh has worked to foster Boston’s international relationships to strengthen our growing economy, and this agreement is another step forward in supporting Boston’s role as an international hub for businesses, students, and tourists.”
Walsh also told the Telegraph: “This is the first official act in this area of my administration and fittingly demonstrates the results of relationships built up over many years of exchanges and visits between Belfast and Boston.”
Boston currently has eight sister cities, according to the city’s website.
They are: Kyoto, Japan; Strasbourg, France; Barcelona, Spain; Hangzhou, China; Padua, Italy; Melbourne, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; and Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana.
The sister cities program began as a national concept in 1956 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a way for the US to develop closer international relations.
Boston’s established its first sister city agreement in 1959 with Kyoto.
Such agreements are designed “to create international understanding and goodwill,” the city of Boston’s website says. The program “promotes world peace in an individual level and encourages citizens to better understand community, by contrasting their way of life with another culture.”
“The two cities exchange people, ideas, culture, education, and technology,” the wesbite adds. “Citizens from both communities learn about each other’s culture and become directly involved in developing unique solutions to common problems.”
This story was updated on Friday, May 2, to include comment from Mayor Walsh’s spokeswoman.