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New Talks Open to Break N.Irish Impasse

A fresh round of political talks is due to begin in Northern Ireland on Wednesday in an effort to unblock the impasse and restore devolved government.

Paul Murphy, UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, will host talks with the parties at Stormont, and they will concentrate on issues arising out of a review of the Good Friday Agreement.

The discussions will pave the way for intensive negotiations to be chaired by the British and Irish prime ministers at Leeds Castle in Kent later this month.

The political institutions in the province were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of Irish Republican Army (IRA) intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

The Irish Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen, will also be at Stormont later on Wednesday for the talks.

Success will depend on whether London and Dublin can persuade the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the dominant Protestant party to share power with the IRA's political ally Sinn Fein.
The DUP and Sinn Fein have maintained high-level contacts with both governments over the summer.

A spokesman for Tony Blair said on Tuesday he believed there was a "shared agenda" between the parties which could lead to a deal.

(Xinhua News Agency September 1, 2004)

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