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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 23:54 GMT 00:54 UK
US envoy thanks NI for support
Agreement is still under threat after three years
NI Agreement is still under threat after three years
The US Special Adviser to Northern Ireland has thanked the people of the province for the sympathy they have expressed in the aftermath of the terror attacks on America.

Arriving in Belfast on Tuesday for talks with political parties about the troubled peace process, Richard Haass said: "What happened today was by any measurement truly awful, truly horrible.

Richard Haass: Holding talks with politicians
Richard Haass: "Appreciate the many calls"

"I appreciate the many calls that have come into the consulate. People from across the political spectrum from all communities have weighed in and that's appreciated."

Mr Haass will hold talks with Acting First and Deputy First Ministers, Sir Reg Empey and Seamus Mallon, to discuss the current difficulties in the peace process.

The State Department official met the Irish Government in Dublin as Sinn Fein travelled to the Irish capital to have talks with the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

Colombia arrests

Later, he is expected to seek an explanation from Sinn Fein for the arrests of three Irish republicans in Colombia on suspicion of training left-wing rebels and travelling on false passports.

He said: "Colombia is a major country in the western hemisphere. It is very important economically.

"So any co-operation with people in Colombia who are challenging the law, promoting the sale of drugs, any co-operation with them is to the US extremely, extremely disturbing. My concerns about those contacts are real."

The men, James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McAuley, were arrested last month and are being detained in a police cell as the Colombian authorities investigate their activities.

The arrests are one of a series of events to have rocked the peace process.

There have been doubts about the state of the loyalist ceasefires following a series of bomb attacks and shootings as well as the withdrawal of the IRA's decommissioning offer.

'Urgent progress'

There have also been sharp divisions between the Northern Ireland parties on policing as well as loyalist protests against Catholic schoolchildren and their parents in north Belfast.

Northern Ireland's political institutions are facing a deadline of 22 September for a deal to be agreed on policing, arms decommissioning and other aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, if they are to avoid collapsing.

Failure to resolve the issues will force Dr Reid into a decision on whether to suspend the political institutions or call fresh Assembly elections.

David Trimble
David Trimble: Repeated decommissioning calls

On Monday, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon called for urgent progress on IRA decommissioning.

Mr Trimble called on Mr Mallon to join with him in appealing for a start to decommissioning.

Speaking in the assembly, Mr Trimble said the lack of movement by the republican movement was putting the future of the assembly in peril.

In response, Mr Mallon agreed that it was time for progress on decommissioning.

But he also said it was time for action on policing, demilitarisation and the stability of the institutions.


Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough

Background

Loyalist ceasefire

FORUM

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

TALKING POINT

TEXTS/TRANSCRIPTS

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

11 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
NI Assembly is restored
08 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
NI process is short on miracles
12 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
NI talks gain six week reprieve
10 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein anger over suspension
08 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Fresh effort to end school dispute
07 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA: A group under scrutiny
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