Monday, October 4, 1999 Published at 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
UK: Northern Ireland
Hume 'amazed' at attack by Major
John Hume (right) with fellow Nobel Prize winner David Trimble
Northern Ireland's SDLP leader John Hume has said he is amazed by an attack on him by former British Prime Minister John Major.
Mr Major accused Mr Hume of holding up the Northern Ireland peace process by siding with Sinn Fein.
He is criticised for being "loath to reciprocate unionist concessions'' during the early stages of the process.
But Mr Hume, who is still recovering from surgery after taking ill last month, has spoken out against the attack.
"He talks about me being prickly. My talks with him were always very friendly, very positive."
He said the drafts were ''so heavily skewed towards the presumption of a united Ireland that they had no merit as a basis for negotiation''.
Mr Hume is widely credited for bringing republicans into the current peace process.
But Mr Major alleged that Mr Hume and the Irish Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, were instead encouraging republicans to believe they could negotiate a united Ireland ''over the heads of unionism''.
The SDLP leader requires another operation in the coming weeks, but he hopes to make a full recovery and continue his political work.