Senator Mitchell said while he had no magic wand he believed the difficulties could be overcome. He added: "There is a chance, the best in many years, to set Northern Ireland on the path to enduring peace and political stability."
The Rev Ian Paisley who has refused to formally take part in the review of the Good Friday agreement, met the Senator and declared: "We're out to wreck anything that's going to destroy our province and fill our graveyards with Ulster's dead."
A more conciliatory line came from Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who turned up minus his deputy, John Taylor, who says he wants no part of the review. Referring to Sinn Fein, Mr Trimble said: "If we believe people are committed to the process, and are prepared to do what I understand that to mean, then of course we're ready to jump together. But jumping together means you're satisfying our requirement of no guns, no government."
Mr Trimble took a swipe at Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, who has resigned as his deputy and yesterday criticised Unionist delaying tactics. Mr Trimble said: "Mr Mallon's lofty position is in fact the fence, and it's not a dignified position for him to continue to sit on it."
SDLP leader John Hume, in hospital in Austria, yesterday phoned to wish his party well in the review. He was taken ill at a conference and is recovering from an operation on a ruptured intestine.He is expected to remain in hospital for some time.
Sinn Fein said time has been wasted. Party vice-president Pat Doherty said on his arrival for talks: "We welcome George Mitchell's involvement here. We welcome his independence. We intend to be constructive and go in here with, as the Americans say, a can-do attitude."
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