Britain imperils peace process, Sinn Fein says


LONDON -- As preliminary peace talks on Northern Ireland stall, an official of the political wing of the Irish Republican Army warned yesterday that the British government is threatening the peace process by not including the party in full talks.

"All-party peace talks within an agreed time frame must be the next stage of the peace process," Sinn Fein official Martin McGuinness said, warning in remarks made in County Kildare in Ireland that Britain's failure to start such talks "effectively devalues and subverts the peace process."

A day earlier, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams warned during an official visit to South Africa that a return to violence is "possible" and said that Sinn Fein would no longer participate in preliminary talks with the British in Belfast.

The British have insisted that the IRA start handing over its weapons before Sinn Fein is admitted into full talks with the government and other political parties. A cease-fire has been observed by the IRA and Protestant-backed Loyalist paramilitary groups since September.

Mr. McGuinness, who led the Sinn Fein delegation in the preliminary talks, called the British demand for weapons to be handed over "a lame excuse which prevents real peace talks."

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