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Newcastle City Council is planning to become a 'sister city' with US president Bill Clinton's home town of Little R...
Newcastle City Council is planning to become a 'sister city' with US president Bill Clinton's home town of Little Rock, Arkansas.

But the scheme has been criticised by the opposition leader on the council, Liberal Democrat Peter Arnold, who said he was concerned the sister city agreement had not been thought through properly.

Last night a White House spokesman for Mr Clinton said: 'I am sure the people of Newcastle with find the people of Little Rock very friendly and will enjoy being a sister city.'

On Wednesday councillors are set to give their backing to plans to link the Newcastle with Little Rock through the sister city agreement.

'I have to question why we are choosing Little Rock. Do we really want to be associated with the town that gave us president Bill Clinton? Probably not,' cllr Arnold said.

'I would rather we established links with cities in the third world where we can help provide expertise. I am certainly not against forming cultural links with other cities, but what do we have in common with Little Rock?'

Newcastle already has a sister city agreement, which is not the same as town twinning, with Atlanta in the USA - which sprang from president Jimmy Carter's visit to Newcastle in 1977 and resulted in regular civic exchanges.

Newcastle City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery says in a report that the recommendation to establish a sister city relationship with Little Rock comes following a visit by local youngsters to the area.

Mr Lavery says that the mayor of Little Rock has invited Newcastle's mayor to the city to attend a sister cities convention in July 1999 which will be chaired by President Clinton.

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