Talks to finally resolve the outstanding issues in the Ulster peace process have been commissioned by the Irish and British governments.

The London government broke news of the talks on Sunday as it seeks to resolve the flags and parades issues that have dogged progress.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in England, the Northern Ireland secretary of state Theresa Villiers said a new round of cross party negotiations are to be convened.

The Irish Times reports that she outlined that they will focus on the outstanding issues, including disagreements on how to deal with flags, parades and the past.

She told delegates these issues were consuming ever increasing amounts of time and resources.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has welcomed the call for new talks and urged the US administration to support the move.

Adams said: “The American administration can play a constructive and meaningful role in shaping and supporting the talks process.

“Given the undermining of the institutions, the refusal to engage in talks and the breaches of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) and other agreements by sections of political unionism and the British government, Sinn Féin has consistently called on both governments to live up to their role as co-equal guarantors of these agreements.”

Secretary of State Villiers appealed to unionists to get ‘back round the table’ to try to resolve the impasse.

She added: “I fully appreciate how very difficult these issues are, the roots of some of them date back centuries, but there are huge benefits for Northern Ireland if a way can be found to make progress on them.”

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Speaking in New York, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan welcomed the timing of a new round of negotiations.

Flanagan said: “Having spent a number of weeks consulting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland party leaders, I am strongly of the view that all party talks involving the two Governments are required to overcome the current political impasse within the Northern Ireland executive - including on the legacy issues of parades, flags and identity and dealing with the past.

“I believe it is now time for these talks to take place. I will be in close contact with Ms Villiers and with the leaders of the Northern Ireland parties over the coming days.

“The Irish Government wishes to see the Institutions of the Good Friday Agreement not only function but flourish to the benefit of all.

“The two Governments have an important role to play in talks to resolve the current impasse.

“We support a fully functioning partnership government in Northern Ireland and will work with the political parties to facilitate the resolution of current difficulties and legacy issues.”

Flanagan is to raise the peace process in Washington today when he meets with US vice president Joe Biden and secretary of state John Kerry, as well as other influential US political figures.

He added: “I will be reiterating my message on the need for continued strong US support for the peace process in Northern Ireland.

“Throughout the peace process, the unwavering support of successive US administrations has been critically important, as it will be again in addressing the current challenges.”