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Northern Ireland parties urged to back draft devolved government deal

BELFAST (Reuters) - The British and Irish governments urged all parties in Northern Ireland to sign up to a draft agreement published on Thursday to restore devolved government for the first time in three years ahead of a deadline to strike a deal.

Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist party, withdrew from the power-sharing government in January 2017 saying it was not being treated equally. Since then Sinn Fein and the largest pro-British party, the Democratic Unionist Party, blamed each other for a number of failed attempts to break the deadlock.

Britain’s Northern Ireland Minister Julian Smith said he asked the speaker of the house to recall the regional assembly on Friday and hoped the parties would support the deal. They have until Monday to break the deadlock or risk fresh elections.

Reporting by Ian Graham, writing by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Marguerita Choy