President Clinton, promising America's "aid, support, encouragement and prayers" for Northern Ireland, celebrated its historic peace pact as an Easter gift akin to Christ's triumph of life over death.

The president's weekly radio address - broadcast Saturday but taped on Friday just hours after the peace agreement was announced - underscored his personal stake in the success of the U.S.-brokered accord to end 30 years of sectarian warfare."On this special weekend, the eyes of the world and the prayers of so many are focused on Northern Ireland," Clinton said.

"Of course, we understand that the pain and hatred of so many years cannot and will not be washed away in one weekend. So on behalf of the American people, I pledge the continuing aid, support, encouragement and prayers of the United States to the effort to build a lasting peace and an enduring prosperity in Ireland and Northern Ireland."

The president and his wife, Hillary, retreated to Camp David for the Easter holiday. They planned to be back at the White House in time to sign and release their tax returns, and greet some 30,000 children and families at the traditional White House Easter egg roll on Monday.

Clinton and his special envoy, former Sen. George Mitchell, were at the center of intense diplomatic talks that led to the Northern Ireland agreement, which the president called "a wonderful Easter gift for the Irish, Irish Americans and lovers of peace everywhere."

There is wide speculation that Clinton will visit Ireland next month when he attends the annual summit of industrialized nations in England. The decision will hinge on whether a Clinton visit would help the peace process as it faces a referendum, White House officials say.

In his Saturday address, Clinton saluted the region's fiercely antagonistic Catholic and Protestant leaders for taking political risks in agreeing to share power.