The British government and Northern Ireland Protestants found themselves deadlocked Monday on the future of peace talks in the province, but the Protestants assured Prime Minister Tony Blair they had no plans to walk out of the talks.
The assurance from an Ulster Unionist Party delegation, headed by party leader David Trimble, was a major step forward as it left open the possibility the Unionists would sit down for the first time with Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army, starting Sept. 15 if present differences are worked out.
Sinn Fein became eligible to join the talks when the IRA renewed its cease-fire Sunday.
Still unresolved is the issue of disarming the IRA and Protestant paramilitary groups.
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