Major and Bruton fail to agree on fresh talks

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The Independent Online


John Major met John Bruton, Ireland's Prime Minister, yesterday, for a "brainstorming" session, but the talks failed to produce any new hope of reviving the Northern Ireland peace process.

Mr Major, who met his Irish counterpart at the European mini-summit, continued to insist that Sinn Fein show a real commitment to IRA disarmament before the all-party talks could resume.

On Thursday, Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein President, warned that the peace process was "doomed to collapse" if Britain continued to insist on the de-commissioning of arms before the republicans are able to return to the negotiating table.

The meeting between the two men was the first since their summit at Chequers was postponed earlier this month, and hopes were raised of a breakthrough.

Further discussions may take place today. Mr Major said a "series of options" were being considered. Mr Bruton said he hoped the talks would bring a "better understanding of the problems".

The Irish leader did not rule out the possibility of a summit. "If we feel a summit is useful we will decide to have one."

However, Mr Bruton refused to be drawn on dates. In a clear nudge towards Mr Major, Mr Bruton suggested that compromises were needed from "all the relevant parties."