Progress in Irish talks

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The Dublin Government and the Ulster Unionist Party last night moved significantly closer to agreement on laying down a concrete legal basis for tackling the critical issue of arms decommissioning in parallel with all-party talks on Northern Ireland.

The two sides emerged after almost three hours of talks in Dublin pronouncing it "constructive and worthwhile."

Mr Trimble appeared pleased with the discussion on the arms issue which he said was "constructive, and we have taken it as far as we can at this stage". He highlighted the fact that Irish Attorney General, Dermot Gleeson, had participated in this area of discussion, implying it had reached a detailed level.

Sir Patrick Mayhew yesterday gave a clear signal to John Major that he does not want to be moved from Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in a summer reshuffle. It came as he prepared plans to introduce a Bill to give terrorists an amnesty if they dispose of guns or bomb-making equipment, aimed at intensifying pressure on the IRA to resume its ceasefire.