29/11/2004

Historic meeting between Adams and Orde is 'useful'

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has described the first ever face-to-face meeting between the Sinn Féin leadership and the Chief Constable of the Police Service for Northern Ireland as "useful".

Leaving the two-hour long meeting with Hugh Orde, which was attended by the Prime Minister, Mr Adams said that he had agreed to meet with the Chief Constable on the basis of the important issue of "demilitarisation of the republican heartlands".

Speaking after the meeting Mr Orde said that there had been a "step forward" and more talks were to follow. However, he told reporters that in his view his first duty was to ensure the safety and security of his officers: "In a normal situation you would not have the military doing normal policing".

At the monthly press meeting, Mr Blair was reticent to comment on the progress achieved during the meeting. He said that as the current talks were at an "intensive stage". The Prime Minister said he was fearful of raising hopes: "I think probably the best thing is for me to say very little. So many times before hopes have been raised and then dashed".

Earlier, DUP leader the Reverend Ian Paisley, who met with General John De Chastelain today, said that matters were at a "very delicate stage". He said that the decommissioning problem was "not solved at the present time". General de Chastelain, he said, had to talk to Tony Blair and the IRA.

As the latest intensive round of talks continues, the Rev Paisley is to meet Mr Blair tomorrow (Tuesday).

(SP)

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