Friday, January 22, 1999 Published at 13:05 GMT
Romanian miner deal struck
The miners have stormed two sets of police barricades so far
A deal has been reached betwen the Romanian Government and striking miners, according to the Prime Minister Radu Vasile.
Mr Vasile gave the news as he emerged from talks with miners' leader, Miron Cozma.
Earlier, President Emil Constantinescu postponed imposing a state of emergency to allow more time for talks with the miners who were marching on the capital, Bucharest.
Mr Constantinescu set an original deadline of 1200GMT for the protesters to turn back
Prime Minister Radu Vasile opened talks with miners' leader Miron Cozma in a monastery near Rimnicu Vilcea, 170km northwest of Bucharest.
Thousands of police with armoured reinforcements have been stationed nearby, following violent clashes and the storming of police barricades on Wednesday and Thursday.
A state of emergency could still be declared if talks do not lead to a solution, allowing the government to bring troops on to the streets to quell unrest.
Concessions on talks
By meeting the miners, Prime Minister Radu Vasile has satisfied one of their demands - that he should conduct negotiations with them in person.
After striking for three weeks, some coal miners are calling for the government to resign, adding to their demands of higher wages and the reversal of pit closures.
The rest of the country is holding its breath.
Left-wing opposition parties have openly supported the miners, blaming the economic policies of the government.
But in Bucharest, a march of several thousand people, including writers, poets and politicians, marched in favour of reforms in defence of the government.
In 1990 and 1991, miners stormed the capital and brought down the government.
Last week, a local court banned a strike by 10,000 miners in the central Jiu Valley coal region, but they refused to return to work.
Public order crisis
The miners - armed with rocks, Molatov cocktails, clubs and shovels - have fought their way past two police blockades, reinforced by piles of concrete slabs.
Riot police using tear gas repulsed the first attempt to breach their second blockade, but the miners, dividing into almost military formations, managed to work their way around the barricade, and rained rocks on the security forces from the surrounding hills. More than 100 police were injured.
The continued march has already led to the sacking of Interior Minister Gavril Dejeu.
His replacement, Constantin Dudu Ionescu, in turn fired both the head of the police force responsible for maintaining public order and the general who led security forces in the two failed attempts to contain the miners.
"We are in exceptional circumstances in which the existence of the state itself is in question," Mr Ionescu said.