Hope for Ulster breakthrough

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The Independent Online
TONY BLAIR was hoping for a breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace talks last night as all the party leaders agreed to new proposals on decommissioning and the establishment of the Assembly, writes Rachel Sylvester.

However the plan suffered an early setback when the Ulster Unionists members failed to endorse it.

The Prime Minister set a new deadline of 30 June for the deadlock to be resolved, after David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, and John Hume, the SDLP leader, presented a package of measures involving compromises on all sides to their parties. The proposals agreed at Downing Street last week, would mean all 10 ministers for a future executive being appointed as "ministers designate" shortly. Sir John de Chastelain, who is overseeing the handover of paramilitary weapons,would also produce a report on decommisioning.

A Downing Street source said all the parties would also have to recommit themselves to making all parts of the Good Friday Agreement work, including specifically the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

Mr Blair said the deadline was "absolute".