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British, Irish PMs Offer Blueprint for Northern Ireland Power-Sharing

The prime ministers of Ireland and Britain have presented Catholic leaders meeting in Dublin and Protestant leaders in London a blueprint aimed at breaking the deadlock on Northern Ireland power-sharing.

The plan offered Wednesday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern includes a commitment by the Irish Republican Army to permit Catholic and Protestant clerics to witness the organization's disarmament. The IRA proposal falls short of the detailed arms inventory sought by hard-line Protestants but opposed by the Catholic Sinn Fein party.

The two prime ministers have given the Northern Ireland adversaries one week to respond in a first step toward a return to the power-sharing arrangement created under the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

That agreement was abandoned two years ago after Protestant lawmakers accused their Sinn Fein counterparts of spying.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.