Northern Ireland

PM David Cameron welcomes NI talks 'progress'

David Cameron Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption David Cameron said he had received an update on how the talks were progressing

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed progress made during cross-party talks in Northern Ireland.

The talks are aimed at resolving difficulties among the five parties in the devolved Stormont government.

Negotiators are considering flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles.

Mr Cameron said Secretary of State Theresa Villiers had indicated "progress in those negotiations and that all of the parties have engaged constructively in the process".

"Clearly these are complex and difficult issues, and I recognise the scale of the task that lies ahead," he said.

"The UK government will do all it can to support the parties in their efforts to reach agreement, and I am satisfied that we have done so thus far.

"I urge the parties to continue in their endeavours and look forward to a further report on progress in the near future."

'Intensify'

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, who is also attending the talks, told him that "all parties have expressed their strong support for the talks to continue and intensify".

"Politics - and political leaders - have to now focus on delivering an agreement for all the people, even if that requires difficult negotiation and compromise," he said.

"The window is narrowing and I urge all the parties to intensify their efforts in the immediate period ahead and seize the opportunity to secure an agreement.

"The Irish government will continue to support the parties in their efforts to reach such an agreement."

The statements from the two prime ministers came as former US Senator Gary Hart returned to Belfast to attend the talks.

It is understood Senator Hart will be in Northern Ireland throughout this week.

The Shadow Secretary of State Ivan Lewis said that the parties were "making headway with some extremely difficult issues".

"I urge the parties to continue to make every possible effort to reach agreement in the best interests of people in Northern Ireland," he said.

Last week, Ms Villiers, who is chairing the talks, said she thought there was only a slim chance of a deal.

However, later she qualified this, saying that the negotiations may have reached a turning point.

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