Anglo-Irish talks back on track for July summit

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JOHN MAJOR and Albert Reynolds yesterday put the Anglo-Irish peace initiative back on track by agreeing to speed up the production of a framework document for their summit in mid-July.

The Irish prime minister said after their talks, which took place as the two leaders were in Corfu for the European Council meeting, that he was not insisting on the cross- border bodies having executive powers which would have been a stumbling block to progress.

Although differences remain to be resolved, the meeting signalled renewed determination to meet the mid- July deadline. Mr Reynolds made it clear both governments would not be put off by the announcement of a ceasefire by the IRA. 'I want a permanent cessation to violence,' he said. 'That is what the people want.'

The recent spate of killings was 'incomprehensible' to the people, he said. 'Any delay in the cessation of violence is one day too long.'

The Irish prime minister raised the stakes before yesterday's meeting by hinting he was insisting on executive powers for the bodies which will handle services such as transport, tourism, energy and telecommunications. However, after the talks, he hinted it was a bargaining ploy. 'You go into talks and you look for everything that might be available. I am not here to lay down specific conditions,' Mr Reynolds said.

British officials, confirming good progress, said the priority was to seek a consensus among the parties. Mr Reynolds is ready to put into the process Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution on the republic's claim to the north in return for the cross-border powers.