Ahern and Blair for talks on N Ireland
British Prime Minister Tony Blair will travel to Dublin on Thursday for talks with his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern about restoring a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, a government statement said on Sunday.
The Irish and British governments hope the suspended devolved administration can be re-established in Belfast this year.
The brief statement in Dublin said the two leaders will review the current position in the peace process in Northern Ireland.
They will "focus on the remaining issues that need to be addressed to bring about the full restoration of the democratic institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
"In that context, they are also expected to emphasise the need for all of the parties to engage intensively in the coming months, beginning with the talks scheduled by the two governments for early February," the statement said.
Earlier this month Ahern urged politicians on all sides of the community in Northern Ireland to take risks to make progress.
"We should not try to find obstacles. We should try to find solutions. Obstacles are the easiest things in the world to find. Solutions are more difficult.
"Everybody has to take chances and everybody has to take risks," Ahern said.
Accompanying Ahern at Thursday's meeting will be his Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and Justice Minister Michael McDowell and travelling with Blair will be Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.
The meeting will take place at Farmleigh House, Ireland's state guesthouse on the outskirts of Dublin.
The 110 members of the suspended assembly in Belfast have not sat since October 2002 following the breakdown of a Catholic and Protestant power-sharing administration.
The decision by the Catholic paramilitary Irish Republican Army (IRA), the military wing of Sinn Fein, to renounce violence, announced in July 2005, brought hope for a revival of power-sharing.
The governments are awaiting a key report from an international watchdog on whether the IRA has really ended its paramilitary and criminal activities.
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