British Prime Minister John Major was set to intervene Wednesday in the deadlock over talks on the future of Northern Ireland that could be in imminent danger of collapse. Government officials confirmed that Mr. Major has agreed to see Unionist leaders representing the 1 million-member Protestant majority in the battle-scarred province.

The Rev. Ian Paisley, the fiery Protestant preacher-politician, and fellow Unionist leader James Molyneaux asked to meet Major after Britain's Northern Ireland Minister Peter Brooke presented squabbling Catholic and Protestant politicians with an ultimatum Tuesday.

Mr. Brooke, trying to return Northern Ireland to local government after 17 years of direct rule by London, demanded that the two sides accept a compromise formula over the venue for talks. He told the politicians that, if his formula were not accepted, he could see no future for the political process he has spent 15 months setting up.

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