Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have claimed that their five-day visit to the United States has been a success for Northern Ireland.
The first and deputy first ministers flew back to the Province on Friday night after spending last week in Boston and Chicago meeting regional US politicians, business people and academics.
It is the second time in two months that the Stormont leaders have gone to the US on a trade and diplomatic mission.
And, in an attempt to counteract some of the criticism of their past overseas trips to China and Brazil, this time the Stormont leaders despatched with the secrecy which surrounded some of their past overseas visits.
Officials from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) briefed journalists before the trip and published an itinerary of their five days in the US, setting out meetings with the president of the Massachusetts Senate, discussions with unidentified potential investors and a visit to the Caterpillar headquarters in Chicago during which an investment by the company of £7 million in Northern Ireland was announced.
Neither Mr Robinson nor Mr McGuinness will appear before the Assembly this week to be questioned about their trip because the Assembly is in recess this week for the half-term holidays so there will be no plenary meetings or committee hearings at Stormont.
In a statement, the two men — whose relationship has appeared to be deeply strained in recent months — both said that the visit had been worthwhile.
Mr Robinson said: “I want to thank Senate President Therese Murray for her invitation to the US and for the opportunity this has given us to reinforce our bonds with existing and potential investors and to promote Northern Ireland as an attractive investment location.
“Our attendance at this week’s major EU-US Connected Health conference, attended by an international audience from over 20 countries, provided a platform to showcase Northern Ireland’s growing expertise in the Connected Health arena.
“I welcome the major investment announcement by Caterpillar to expand its manufacturing business in Northern Ireland. Along with Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), these are two of our most important American investors.”
Mr McGuinness said: “Strengthening our long-established relationships with the USA is important for our economic growth and political progress. During this visit we have had the opportunity to meet potential investors, current investors, and political leaders and encourage innovation in healthcare and university collaborations.”