Ulster talks full house

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The Independent Online
THE scene was yesterday set for an intensive bout of political negotiation as both Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionist party declared themselves ready for tomorrow's opening of the crucial final talks session, writes David McKittrick.

Sinn Fein formally announced yesterday that it would return to the talks, after an absence of some weeks, following a meeting of the party executive in Dublin.

In February the republicans were suspended from the talks after the authorities attributed two killings in Belfast to the IRA. They were eligible to return on 9 March but did not do so, saying they would delay a decision on whether to go back until party president Gerry Adams had met Tony Blair.

This meeting duly took place, and last week some low-level Sinn Fein representatives unobtrusively returned to the talks building in Belfast.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble meanwhile received a reasonably warm endorsement at his party's annual general meeting in Belfast yesterday.