IRISH Prime Minister Albert Reynolds said yesterday that British Prime Minister John Major is increasingly accepting that the Irish Republican Army's cease-fire is permanent.
The absence of IRA retaliation to loyalist violence helps to convince Mr. Major of the permanence he was insisting on before formal talks could begin, Mr. Reynolds told Australia's National Press Club in Canberra.
Outlawed Protestant paramilitary groups have continued with sporadic violence since the IRA declared a cease-fire Aug. 31, though attacks have been sharply scaled down and the IRA has not retaliated.
Soldiers in Belfast defused a bomb early yesterday, apparently planted by Protestant extremists, outside a bar in the Catholic Falls Road district, police said. Official sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the 4.5-pound bomb appeared to be the work of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
Gerry Adams, president of the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, said on television Tuesday that Major was making a fool of himself with his demand for clarification of the cease-fire terms.
It was Mr. Adams's first live interview since Britain lifted a ban Sept. 16 on broadcasting Sinn Fein voices.
Russia rejects Azeri oil deal
AN international consortium led by British Petroleum and Amoco Corp. signed a landmark $7 billion agreement Tuesday with Azerbaijan's state oil company to explore for oil and gas in the Caspian Sea.
But Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin said later that his country would not recognize the contract. Russia is insisting that the pipeline pass through its territory, giving it control over Azerbaijan's oil exports. The contract omits agreement on a pipeline.