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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 09:27 GMT
PMs to host proximity talks
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern shake hands at Hillsborough
The two prime ministers met the parties last month
Three days of proximity talks involving Northern Ireland's politicians are to be hosted by the British and Irish prime ministers in London later this month.

The discussions will come shortly after the Independent Monitoring Commission publishes its first report on continuing paramilitary activity.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy said Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern hoped to tackle the problems of paramilitarism and power-sharing outstanding after last month's talks in Hillsborough.

"When Tony Blair left, he made it clear that it was his and Bertie Ahern's intention to have an intensive period of discussion with the political parties and the two governments," he said.

"This will happen in London, but clearly it is very important that the talks do happen and that we can try and resolve the issues that are in front of us."

The latest deadlock in the political process follows claims of IRA involvement in the alleged false imprisonment of a dissident republican in Belfast in February.

Claims by Chief Constable Hugh Orde that Provisional IRA members were behind it have overshadowed the review of the Agreement, with UUP leader David Trimble walking out of the talks.

Last month's talks were aimed at exploring the feasibility of the premiers' promise to fast track the stalled review of the Good Friday Agreement which they made in Dublin earlier in March.

Following last November's assembly election, the Democratic Unionist Party overtook the UUP as the main unionist party in Northern Ireland.

With the DUP refusing to negotiate with Sainn Fein and the Ulster Unionists not participating in the review, no round table sessions are being held.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Northern Ireland Office.


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