Political parties to meet with US envoy

The US special envoy for Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, is to today begin talks with political parties on possible ways to restore devolution.

Mr Reiss, has said that he is going to ask the DUP what exactly it would take to get them to move towards a power-sharing executive, and he is expected to try to encourage them to take part in discussions to restore an all-inclusive government.

In separate talks, he is to meet with Sinn Fein at the US consul in Belfast where he is expected to ask the party to support the PSNI.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is keen to get the talks started. He said: "If the Bush Administration is to return to the positive role it and the Clinton administration played in the Irish peace process, then anti-Sinn Féin elements will have to be reined in.

"Sinn Féin has never looked for special treatment. The bedrock of our support comes from Irish America.

"We have never looked for party political support from any US official or agency. All parties have to be given parity of esteem and equality of treatment. Any other approach is counter productive and unhelpful.

"I want to see this administration returning to an even handed and balanced approach."

The meetings with the political parties follow talks held yesterday between Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair, where both leaders agreed that progress in Northern Ireland's political process must be made as soon as possible.

They also confirmed that Government meetings with the political parties aimed at restoring devolution would resume on 6 February.


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