Republicans make new proposals to end impasse

The Republican movement has presented London, Dublin and the Ulster Unionists with proposals intended to break the impasse in the peace process over IRA weapons decommissioning.

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, met David Trimble, leader of the UUP, yesterday and suggested how the political initiative that was put on hold a week ago could be resuscitated.

The British and Irish governments have also been contacted by republicans. Tony Blair's chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, is believed to have visited Belfast yesterday.

Although the nature of the proposals is unclear, the fact that republicans have reacted will revive hopes that the process can be restarted.

The IRA decommissioned a substantial amount of weaponry last week, while Mr Adams made a speech that satisfied the two governments he was signalling that the republican war was over.

But Mr Trimble said not enough information on what had been decommissioned had been given by General John de Chastelain, who witnessed the action. The general told the Government he would resign if forced to reveal details of the weapons.