Lessons from a master negotiator

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Media captionGeorge Mitchell on key takeaways from his major negotiations - from N Ireland to his own home

Senator George Mitchell is good at negotiating - except with his wife.

When it came to choosing a place to live, Maine (his choice), New York (hers), the master negotiator lost the debate. Mr Mitchell joined me earlier to discuss his new memoir and rest assured we did get beyond how to deal with your spouse.

In The Negotiator, the former Middle East envoy and architect of the Northern Ireland peace talks, writes that every negotiation is different. So what was the difference that made his Middle East efforts a failure and the Northern Ireland ones a success?

Essentially, he says, the Middle East is a lot more complicated because it is part of a wider regional conflict. But also, critically, in Northern Ireland, leaders made a decision to go forward, and the public wanted it.

The senator ducked a question on whether he'd like to have been part of the Iran talks though he did say it was essential that these negotiations succeed because the alternative is war.

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