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UK, Ireland pause talks to restore Northern Ireland's regional government - FT

FILE PHOTO: Democratic Unionist Party MP Sammy Wilson is seen at the House of Commons in London, Britain October 22, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Irish and British governments have “paused” talks to restore Northern Ireland’s devolved regional government, stalling a power-sharing agreement between Irish nationalists and pro-British unionists in the region, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

Talks for a deal between the Sinn Fein party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will restart after Christmas, the newspaper added, citing a senior Irish official.

Negotiations resumed last Monday after both DUP and Sinn Fein lost some ground in the British election last week, adding pressure on them to reach an agreement.

The British-run region’s 1998 mandatory power-sharing executive, which ended conflict that lasted for three decades, fell apart in January 2017 when Sinn Fein withdrew from the regional government, saying it was not being treated as an equal partner.

Since then, the two parties have blamed each other for the failure to restore a power-sharing government.

Both Ireland and Britain believe a deal is still possible to settle the issue, the Financial Times said.

If the two political parties fail to cut a deal by Jan. 13, British government will call for a regional election in Northern Ireland.

Reporting by Akshay Balan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli