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NPR's Morning Edition
Broadcast 01/07/1999, Story 14

In belfast negotiations on the future of northern ireland have resumed yesterday as marathon talks lasted well past the midnight deadline that failed to resolve differences between catholics and protestants over the issue of paramilitary disarmament n. p. r.'s phillip davis is in belfast british prime minister tony blair said the midnight deadline what happened

Well what happened was that the midnight deadline came and went and the negotiators are not able to come to any sort of agreement about the main sticking point in these talks which is howling paramilitary groups like the irish republican army are going to lay down their weapons

So the process is called decommissioning

And under the peace accord out which was set up in a almost a completely independent a new government for northern ireland by the committee would've been part of the process but privacy unionists are insisting on it they can't sit in a government which and spain who are the political allies of the irish republican army and less to hire a gets rid of its weapons first campaign says there's nothing about any of that and despite the peace accord signed last year and so that's where the other sticking point that continues to be

She's had enough of the late night compromise tell me about that

Well yeah this is an audience that's also very much in the air but government officials told me that she and painted did offer to try to push the higher rate to start giving up some of its weapons in september by as early as september and that was that the process of disarmament that would lead to more or less complete decommissioning by mid two thousand

The guarantee that champagne gave was that if the decommissioning process to a doctor slowdown in the unionists have a right to search and clean up the governments of this that the quid pro quo uh but the union has rejected and i'm told that prime minister tony blair at that time since they thought that was a very solid an impressive one and that is very angry with the union has turned it down

She thinks leader gerry adams of sinn wants president clinton to get involved in these negotiations how likely is that

Well it was unclear i mean gerry adams

To talk to president clinton a couple times over the course of the night uh at one point he was on the line with the president for about twenty minutes

And gerry adams isn't the only one who started the collection of prime minister tony blair had a couple of conversations with the president as well

Uh in the uh i think one thing that hasn't kept going to the situation and he has a stake in the outcome to a lot of people say was his last minute calls last year by the president to sign into agreeing to sign off on that defy the peace agreement which of course is the same agreement that everyone is trying to save now so it's possible that the president will get involved in what happens to that agreement are these talks going

Well i wouldn't i wouldn't do that the agreement is dead at this point in time to save some life support to a certain extent both sides feel like they're being pushed to the absolute limit on what they can agree to a union is here that the accord will lead britain said northern ireland almost addressed

Uh and it's part of the agreement political prisoners including bombers and fighters from the higher rate has actually been going free and that's a good allow unionists as well we don't have that are getting very nervous because it's now marching season which is the protestant unionists to celebrate their victories of marching through catholic neighborhoods that in general the cease fire still holding out by the deadline was pretty arbitrage is something tony blair so so even if the deal doesn't happen today it's possible that old because a little political will for talks to resume this fall

N. p. r.'s phillip davis in belfast

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