Friday, April 2, 1999 Published at 05:03 GMT 06:03 UK
Good Friday again - but progress on hold
Good Friday is the anniversary of the original peace agreement
Northern Ireland has reached the first anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement without the hoped-for breakthrough over paramilitary weapons.
But UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted that Northern Ireland's politicians have reached a "basis for agreement".
His optimism was not shared by everyone, with Sinn Fein in particular expressing disappointment at the failure to completely overcome the outstanding difficulties.
A marathon session of talks led by the two prime ministers failed to break that deadlock.
But the prime minister said both governments were convinced they would get full agreement from all parties in favour of a "declaration" setting out a timescale for establishing the Northern Ireland Assembly's executive and decommissioning.
The latest agreement was another "huge and significant milestone", he said.
Mr Blair described the three-day talks as being about dialogue and leaving the past behind.
He went on to thank the politicians involved in the negotiations for their "positive and friendly" manner.
The adjournment was now a "short pause for reflection", said the prime minister, who set out the way the declaration could help resolve the row over weapons.
Less than a month after Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam triggers the formation of the ruling executive, there will be a "collective act of reconciliation" when arms will be put beyond use in a mannner verified by the independent commission for decommissioning, Mr Blair said.
Mr Ahern also thanked those involved in the negotiations, saying: "We are now satisfied we have overcome the last hurdles."
The pair returned to the discussions on Wednesday night after leaving to attend to parliamentary duties in London and Dublin.
Sinn Fein maintains decommissioning is not a precondition in the Good Friday Agreement.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who is also the assembly's first minister, said the declaration would satisfy current problems.
He said the talks had made more progress than he had expected.
SDLP leader John Hume welcomed the day of reconciliation as an "outstanding idea".
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams expressed disappointment that the deadline had been missed.
The prize of lasting peace demanded that everyone must try, he added.
Dr Mowlam had set up a deadline of Good Friday, 2 April, for setting up the executive.
An earlier target date of 10 March was missed when attempts to break the stalemate failed.
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