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Irish, British Leaders To Consult

March 1, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland have agreed on a timetable for consultations on Northern Ireland, but have set no deadlines for breaking the impasse in the peace process, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office said Wednesday.

Northern Ireland’s new power-sharing government was suspended on Feb. 11 after the Irish Republican Army refused to yield to disarmament demands from the Ulster Unionists, the main Protestant party.

Consultations involving the key Northern Ireland parties, Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen and British Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson will continue for two weeks, said Alastair Campbell, Blair’s spokesman.

Talks then will shift to Washington on March 16 and 17, when the main party leaders will attend St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. President Clinton is expected to become involved in the talks at that stage, Campbell said.

Blair and Ahern plan to review progress during the week of March 20, before meeting with each other at the European Union summit in Lisbon, Portugal, on March 23-24.

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