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NPR's Morning Edition
Broadcast 28/06/1999, Story 10

This is n. p. r.'s morning edition i'm bob edwards british and irish leaders say time is running out for implementation of last year's good friday peace agreement on the future of northern ireland they've set a new deadline for catholic republicans and protestant unionists to resolve their differences

Britain's prime minister tony blair and ireland's prime minister bertie ahern visit belfast today to meet with protestant and catholic leaders in a newspaper interview blair warned there may be a return to violence in northern ireland was a breakthrough is reached by wednesday n. p. r.'s phillip davis reports from london when that despite a peace agreement was signed over a year ago

Calls for highs that the warring factions in northern ireland would put down their arms and learn to work together the agreement aims to bring together protestant unionists who want the province the stately to britain in catholic republicans want to cut ties to britain and join with the republic of ireland under the deal northern ireland would be run by a new local assembly that have representatives from both sides and all armed groups especially the violent irish republican army

Would turn in their weapons by may of next year northern ireland's voters in using ethically approve the deal by a seventy one percent majority in a referendum held in june nineteen ninety eight but since then the agreement has stalled unionist leaders such as david trimble the head of ulster unionist party say that the irish republican army is not serious about putting down their arms

He accused contain the party of irish republicans have not even seen forthrightly that they want their allies in hiring to surrender or decommission their weapons that will be issue number one that today's talks trimble said over the weekend the list no votes no excuses just a simple clear statement of the house of the republican movement that they will the commission also the prime minister's us for the full the full house for such a force is necessary

This is disagreement trimble says otherwise he will try to block since they can take in this season northern ireland's propose new assembly

C. n. n.'s leaders say there's nothing in the accord that requires him to make such a statement martin mcguinness sinn fein's chief negotiator says his party can do little to make the i. r. a. lay down its arms

But he added quote champagne remain committed to the good friday pat

Machines a leadership class for over a year they've been making it absolutely clear that we stand by our commitment to me that predicting that we are prepared to work with all of those participants to try and bring about the collection of indicating that that maybe the fed is an absolute commitment british prime minister tony blair and irish prime minister bertie ahern will meet with unionist and republican leaders in belfast's to hammer out a deal

Blair wants to have a deal done by wednesday june thirtieth to july first traditionally marked the beginning of the summer season of partisan membership margins the markets are seen as a provocation to northern ireland's catholics and nobody thinks any real negotiations will get done that while protestants are marching defiantly through catholic strongholds

Blair hopes that the unionists will accept a formula in which in spain makes a statement supporting disarmament with the knowledge that they hire a dozen do so next year in spain will be thrown off the assembly loma linda blair secretary of state for northern ireland says that despite the bluster between the unionists and the republicans there will be a deal

I don't believe that anybody would know liane the seriousness of the present situation will make something

It was relatively easy to tell what we have today is a compound that can make progress of the talks are being watched closely internationally including by president bill clinton faces a very serious serious period

And i don't say anything that would make it worse and that in the days ahead i'm going to do whatever anybody thinks i can do to save it

But i hope and pray will be safe because of this friday of course was that when the people voted for america today and the differences though they are profound our is nothing compared to the cost of losing now there were three days left to finalize an agreement that was years in the making phillip davis n. p. r. news london

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