Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams has said he is pessimistic about the
prospects of prospect of a breakthrough at next week's peace
talks at Leeds Castle in southern England.
Mr Adams said he was not hopeful of a deal given the position of
Ian Paisley's DUP on the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. He said it
was important to remember that the hardline unionist party was
about "destroying" the Agreement.
Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister insisted today that the
talks process could be brought to a halt unless there was a
"complete and unequivocal end to violence" by the Provisional
IRA and subsequent unionist agreement to share power with Sinn
The talks are already hampered by the refusal of the DUP, the
dominant unionist party in the suspended Belfast Assembly, to
engage in direct talks with Sinn Fein.
But speaking in Dublin yesterday, Mr Adams pointed out that DUP
had said that even if the IRA disbanded, the DUP would still not
sit down with Sinn Fein for at least a year.
"Why would you expect unionism to embrace this process if their
political leaders see it to be to their disadvantage?" he asked.
"They will only start to embrace it when they see that progress
is going ahead anyway.
He said: "We want to see a comprehensive deal which brings all
of the outstanding issues to a definitive closure. But all we
have been hearing is partial deals, delayed deals or deals over
very long periods. We don't want that."
"The overall strategy for a process of change is destroyed if
there is no progress and that would be dreadful," he said.
Mr Adams, who was accompanied by Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Mr
Martin McGuinness and policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly, said
those who believed progress can be made with the destruction of
the Agreement "were kidding themselves".
Mr Blair, speaking outside his Sedgefield home following talks
with 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today, said that new talks
between the parties next week represent a crucial juncture.
Mr Blair said: "It is two years now since I made a speech ...
about acts of completion, saying in effect we had to move the
whole thing forward and get it done.
"Two years on, the elements are still the same. It is apparent
what has to happen, there has to be a complete and unequivocal
end to violence, there has to be a willingness on that basis to
"The elements are clear, the question is, is the will clear? I
mean, do people really want to do it?
"There is no point in us continually having these meetings
unless that will exists and we will find out next week whether
it really does."
The head of the independent arms decommissioning body, General
John de Chastelain, is to return next week in the hope of moves
on arms arising from the talks. It was also confirmed that US
envoy Mitchell Reiss would join the talks.
Preliminary talks have continued in Belfast in advance of the
'hothouse' negotiations at the moated Leeds Castle venue.
But Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness warned that
if a deal is not delivered, it would then be up to the British
and Irish governments to push ahead with elements of the Good
Friday Agreement that did not require the assent of unionists.
In such an eventuality, unionists would be faced with a form of
administration that would be more "unpalatable" than what could
emerge from Leeds Castle, he said.