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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Mitchell meets NI leaders
George Mitchell (right) met Mark Durkan
George Mitchell (right) met Mark Durkan
Former US senator George Mitchell, who helped broker the Good Friday Agreement, has held informal talks with a number of political leaders in Northern Ireland.

Among the pro-Agreement party leaders he met were SDLP leader Mark Durkan, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

The talks came at a time of political deadlock with the Northern Ireland Executive suspended over allegations of IRA spying within Stormont.

They also came days before David Trimble faces another meeting of his party's ruling council amid claims the party is heading for a split.

Speaking to reporters before Monday's meeting with Mark Durkan, Mr Mitchell urged politicians to continue their efforts to implement the Agreement and take a long-term view of the process.

He said that when the Agreement was signed in 1998 he knew there would still be a number of setbacks but said people should focus on the progress that had been made so far.

Jobs boost

He also said that he would not be drawn on the details of the process, but said he hoped that Mr Trimble would have the opportunity to continue his leadership and continue to be involved in the process.

Mr Mitchell said he found it "encouraging" that Northern Ireland had enjoyed one of its quietest summers this year, with a significant reduction in street disturbances.

He added: "I think it demonstrates to the people of Northern Ireland the benefits of pursuing a process of dialogue as opposed to one of conflict to resolve political differences.

"At the same time I think it has never been realistic to expect that problems and attitudes which developed over very long periods of time and indeed in some cases centuries will resolve immediately on the creation of an agreement.

"It takes a long time, generations perhaps, to deal with these issues.

"The important thing is that there be both in fact and appearance steady progress towards the objective of which the overwhelming majority of the people of Northern Ireland share."

Mr Mitchell, who chaired the talks leading to the signing of the Agreement, also formally opened a new 25m headquarters for a Craigavon chemicals company which is promising to create 200 jobs over the next five years.

The 88,000 sq ft Chemical Synthesis Services facility for innovative sciences makes the company Ireland's largest chemistry service provider.

CSS is owned by Dr Allen McClay founder and former chairman of Galen Holdings who said it was important link in the chain of services the companies provided.

Mitchell 'confident' about NI process
07 Oct 01  |  Northern Ireland
Mitchell urges political leadership
11 Sep 01  |  Northern Ireland

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