US envoy begins talks with NIreland leaders

AP News
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Posted: Oct 29, 2014 1:58 PM

LONDON (AP) — The new U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland has kicked off talks with local political leaders aimed at helping smooth a new round of power-sharing negotiations among the government's five-party coalition.

Gary Hart, a former U.S. senator, is seeking to broker compromise on a wide range of issues threatening to tear apart the 7-year-old coalition of British Protestants and Irish Catholics.

Hart, who was appointed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to the post, said Wednesday Northern Ireland's institutions faced major challenges despite progress made in the past two decades.

Britain convened the Belfast talks in hopes of narrowing many divisions among the parties on contentious issues including sectarian parades and the display of British and Irish symbols.