Mitchell back in role of Irish peace broker

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The Independent Online
THE FORMER US senator George Mitchell met David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, last night 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 told Mr Mitchell 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 he held out the prospect of a deal based on "sequencing" proposed by Gerry Adams, of Sinn Fein, to allow all sides to "jump together". "We envisage a review focused on decommissioning and devolution," said a senior Unionist source.

Mr Mitchell will meet leaders of Sinn Fein and other parties in Belfast today, before a break until 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 key principles.