After breaking for Christmas, they returned to Northern Ireland over the weekend, sending a sixth draft of the proposal to party leaders on Sunday night. A seventh draft was issued on Monday night, at 11pm GMT.
Calls for decisive progress came from within Northern Ireland and around the world. As reported by the BBC Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers expressed hope that “all sides will be able to show flexibility to make an agreement possible on these divisive issues.”
Sinn Fein's lead negotiator Gerry Kelly echoed her optimism, stating “"We are hopeful we can do a deal today . . . These issues will not go away so now is the time to deal with them," while UUP leader Mike Nesbitt issued an encouraging estimate that “80, maybe even 90%” of the proposal was “over the line.”
In a statement, the White House urged all involved to work towards a conclusion. “We call upon the leadership of the five parties to make the compromises necessary to conclude an agreement now, one that would help heal the divisions that continue to stand between the people of Northern Ireland and the future they deserve,” said spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
Haass had voiced his hopes for the final day of meetings via Twitter: “have long said the only day of a negotiation that counts is the last day. [sic] today is the last day here in Belfast. Hope NI leaders seize it.”
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