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The BBC's David Eades in Washington
"Mounting fustration on both sides of the Atlantic"
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Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness
We hope the US administration will put pressure on the British government
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Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 16:56 GMT
'No new Mitchell-style NI review'

Mandelson and NI politicians on US PR offensives
Mandelson and NI politicians on US PR offensives

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson has ruled out another Mitchell style review as a way to try to find progress in the peace process.

He was speaking after a meeting with the US national security advisor, Sandy Berger at the White House in Washington.

The Search for Peace
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The now suspended power-sharing executive was set up in December after former US senator George Mitchell chaired a review which helped unionists and republicans come to agreement.

No mechanism for getting the parties back into talks to find a way out of the arms impasse has yet been found.

But Mr Mandelson said he remained hopeful politicians in Northern Ireland would be able to find a way through the current difficulties without outside help.

"Bear in mind that what is suspended is simply on hold. Nothing has been destroyed, nothing annulled.

"It will be as quick and simple to reactivate the executive and institutions as it was to put them on hold, as long as we can get people talking again and getting some renewed agreement on how we can take forward all parts of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

'Prospect zero'

But Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness told the BBC on Thursday he believed the prospect for persuading the armed groups to get back into contact with the decommissioning body was "zero" unless the institutions were re-established.

The former education minister is also in the US and is meeting Sandy Berger at the White House on Thursday night.

McGuinness: Hope for support from US administration McGuinness: Hope for support from US administration
He said he would update the Clinton administration "on the current situation as we see it".

Mr McGuinness added: "We would like to see the US administration use its influence in a very positive and constructive way particularly in getting the British government to face up to its responsibilities in relation to the Good Friday Agreement."

He denied that republicans had not faced up to their responsibilities on disarming and repeated that his party believes the British government acted illegally in "pulling down the people's institutions".

Meanwhile, two prominent anti-agreement unionists have been included on a new Ulster Unionist Party working group set up to devise future strategy.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and a party honarary secretary, Arlene Foster, are on the 10-strong committee, which also includes deputy leader John Taylor, Ken Maginnis, Sir Reg Empey and Michael McGimpsey.

The formal title for the committeee is 'The working group on the Review of the Belfast Agreement'.

It has already had two meetings and will meet again later this week.

Efforts to lift suspension

In a separate development, the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dail on Thursday that every effort is still being made to lift the suspension of the institutions.

He said: "There are still discussions and consultations at all levels, but no particular breakthrough. But we are determined to keep at it until we find a way of dealing with this issue.

"Arms and demilitarisation and all of the other questions are still on the agenda."

'Sinn Fein arms role may end'

Meanwhile Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has signalled his party's role as a go-between with the IRA on the arms issue may end.

Gerry Adams Gerry Adams: Sinn Fein may reject arms role
Mr Adams told the London-based Irish Post newspaper he had been "continually slapped in the face" despite trying hard to seek a resolution of the issue.

He said: "I certainly think the time for Sinn Fein to be a messenger on this arms issue is over or almost over."

Mr Adams said his party had its own electoral mandate and he did not accept that Sinn Fein should be asked to "pass another test which is dependent on the IRA doing something".

Trimble call to IRA

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has spent the past week in Washington, and suggested on Wednesday that the IRA should re-open contact with the international decommissioning body.

Mr Trimble, who is due back in the province on Thursday, said it would be a "good first step" in putting the peace process back on track.

The IRA's proposals for dealing with the arms issue were put to the International Decommissioning Commission on the day the political institutions were suspended.

But they were withdrawn after the UK government said they did not go far enough, and went ahead with the suspension.

Meanwhile a delegation from the Ulster Democratic Party which is linked to the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Defence Association has met the security minister Adam Ingram at Stormont.

The UDP's David Adams said his party was still trying to find out what the IRA had proposed to the independent disarmament body.

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Adams: Sinn Fein may cut IRA link
23 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Mandelson: Progress is possible
22 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
IRA rejects 'guns swap'
23 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Mitchell blames lack of trust
22 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Still no movement in NI process
22 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
NI 'guns swap' ruled out
21 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Your move, Trimble tells IRA
19 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Mandelson: Time to draw breath
19 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Trimble: Suspension only temporary
11 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Assembly suspension 'not the end of peace'
11 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Q&A: What happens now devolution is suspended?
18 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
IRA inquest verdict 'no surprise'
11 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
Second De Chastelain report in full
15 Feb 00 |  Northern Ireland
IRA statement in full

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