13/07/2001

POLITICAL TALKS RESUME AT WESTON PARK

THE British and Irish prime ministers have returned to Weston Park in Shropshire for further talks aimed at saving the Good Friday Agreement.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern met Northern Ireland's main pro-Agreement parties, but were unable to meet the two loyalist parties, the Progressive Unionist Party and Ulster Democratic Party, who rejected invitations to attend.

A Downing Street spokesman said the talks were the last chance for the two governments to engage with the parties before the end of the summer. Friday could also become the last day for the current talks as Bertie Ahern flies of to South America over the weekend on business.

The spokesman also revealed that the three days of discussions earlier in the week had produced "steady and serious engagement" by all the parties in the attempt to break the political deadlock.

The current political crisis process was brought about by the resignation of David Trimble as the Northern Ireland first minister on 1 July. He has refused to sit in government with republicans until the IRA begins to decommission its weapons.

Mr Trimble and the rest of his talk’s team were flown over to England on a specially chartered jet after they had returned to Northern Ireland for the 12 July holiday period. (AMcE)

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