Policy on Ulster talks reaffirmed

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JOHN MAJOR reaffirmed his policy that Northern Ireland constitutional talks should accompany all three strands of the relationships affecting the province - internal, North-South and between London and Dublin, writes Donald Macintyre.

His declaration came in spite of a rebuff on Monday by James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionists, who made clear his preference for talks which focused only on internal political arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Mr Molyneaux, who has backed an 85-member assembly for the province, suggested that he would not take part in talks on the three- strand basis. But Mr Major said in Washington yesterday: 'There are a range of views in Northern Ireland, but I think the conclusion we reached some time ago . . . would be . . . to deal with all three strands.' That was a 'judgement that I think remains valid and we will need to see how we can ensure that occurs'.

Mr Major said that it was 'very striking' to read the findings of an opinion poll commissioned for the BBC which showed that more than 90 per cent of people on both sides of the border favoured the Downing Street declaration.