LANDMARK TALKS TO BEGIN IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Britain's Northern Ireland Minister Peter Brooke will launch talks on the future of the province April 30, the government announced yesterday. After 14 months of diplomacy, Mr. Brooke won the agreement of the Protestant Unionist majority and the nationalist minority in Northern Ireland to negotiate powersharing.

Almost 3,000 people have died in Northern Ireland since 1969 in the Irish Republican Army's fight to oust Britain from the province. It has been ruled directly from London for the past 16 years.

In a breakthrough that could signal new hope for the divided island, Brooke gave the talks another dimension with the agreed involvement of the Dublin government.

The process will begin April 30 with meetings between Brooke and each of the main constitutional parties in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, has been excluded from the talks because it refuses to renounce violence.

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