17/01/2002

US special envoy meets with Sinn Féin at Stormont

US Special Adviser on Northern Ireland Richard Haass has held an hour-long meeting with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at Stormont.

As President Bush’s envoy, Mr Haass has engaged in a series of talks this week in London, Dublin and now Belfast in order to assess the political and policing situation in Northern Ireland.

Speaking after his meeting on Thursday January 17 Mr Haass said he had agreed to disagree with Sinn Féin over its refusal to join the new policing board.

However he denied allegations that relation between Sinn Féin and the White House were cold over Mr Adams’s recent trip to Cuba or his refusal to sign up to policing. Rather, he expressed the hope that republicans would soon join the 19-member board, set up under the Good Friday Agreement to hold the new Police Service of Northern Ireland to account.

Sinn Féin has so far refused to take its two seats it is entitled to on the board citing the reforms do not match those as recommended by Patten.

Mr Haass also held a round of meetings with other political parties including the SDLP, which has two members on the new board.

SDLP leader and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan described his meeting with Mr Haass as very useful and urged republicans to take their seats.

After Mr Haass left Stormont he travelled on to a meeting with the head of the decommissioning body, General John de Chastelain. (AMcE)

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