Mitchell back in role of broker role

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The Independent Online
US SENATOR George Mitchell last night met David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, within an hour of being given the role of honest broker in the Northern Ireland peace process by Tony Blair and the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

Mr Trimble made it clear to Mr Mitchell that he needed a clear commitment from the IRA and Sinn Fein to begin decommissioning before he could move forward to setting up the power-sharing executive for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

But the Ulster Unionist leader held out the prospect of a deal based on "sequencing" proposed by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to allow all sides to "jump together". "We envisage a review focused on decommissioning and devolution and how we ensure the Good Friday Agreement is reached," said a senior Unionist source.

Mr Mitchell will meet Sinn Fein and other party leaders in Belfast today, before a break until early September. Before agreeing to the review, Mr Trimble obtained assurances that Mr Mitchell, who brokered the Good Friday Agreement, was not seeking to renegotiate the package's three key principles to which all the parties signed: an inclusive executive; decommissioning by May 2000, and the decommissioning process to be conducted by General de Chastelain.

Mr Mitchell told Mr Blair that as a father, he could not give an open- ended commitment to the search for peace and said the parties should focus on the risk of not reaching agreement.