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David Cameron set for Sinn Fein talks

By David Young

Politicians in Northern Ireland will convene today in a fresh bid to hammer out an agreement on unresolved peace process issues.

A three-day session of intensive negotiations focused on long-standing disputes over flags, parades and the legacy of the past will begin at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Delegations from the five parties in the power-sharing executive are trying to achieve some degree of progress and reduce community tensions before the biggest day of the loyal order marching season on July 12.

In recent years serious rioting has broken out in north Belfast linked to a contentious Orange Order parade on a short stretch of road next to a nationalist neighbourhood.

The talks involving the Democratic Unionists, Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance Party will be facilitated by a senior civil servant.

While they are under way in Belfast, in London Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will meet Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street.

Afterwards Mr McGuinness and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams will have a separate meeting with Mr Cameron - an encounter that comes after criticism from the republican party that the Prime Minister has not met with them bilaterally since coming to office, yet has held individual talks with Mr Robinson's DUP on a number of occasions.

The renewed talks bid comes at Stormont six months after marathon negotiations chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass ended without agreement.

While draft proposals outlined by Dr Haass remain on the table, with the party leaders having met periodically to discuss the outstanding issues since January, efforts to strike a deal in his absence have made little progress.

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