Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Belfast Negotiators Pass Deadline Talks Attempt to Save Accord

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Belfast Negotiators Pass Deadline Talks Attempt to Save Accord

Article excerpt

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- With two key parties sticking to incompatible positions, Northern Ireland's rival politicians failed yesterday to meet a midnight deadline for saving the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the negotiations this week in hopes of winning a long-overdue agreement to form a new Protestant-Catholic government for Northern Ireland, the central plank of an accord reached on Good Friday last year.

The negotiations passed the midnight deadline and continued into the early hours today at Stormont, center of British administration in Northern Ireland.

Despite mounting pressure from both Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern since the latest talks began Monday, the IRA's allied Sinn Fein party was refusing to give any firm assurance that the outlawed group would start to disarm by any fixed date.

The Ulster Unionists, chief representative of Northern Ireland's British Protestant majority, have demanded that commitment before they will accept Sinn Fein members in two of the government's 12 posts. …

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