US official opens new Belfast peace talks

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By AP

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Updated: Tue, 17 Sep 2013 03:16:00 EST

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — A U.S. diplomat has launched a new round of Northern Ireland peace talks aimed at resolving deep-seated divisions over parades and flags that triggered widespread rioting this year. Richard Haass says he will spend four months meeting rival British Protestant and Irish Catholic parties, churches, parading organizations and militant pressure groups. Haass is director of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. He was President George W. Bush's envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2003. Leaders of Northern Ireland's unity government invited Haass to oversee the Belfast talks in hope that he can forge a compromise plan on three areas of bitter dispute: parades, British and Irish flags and emblems, and remembering the dead from Northern Ireland's four-decade conflict. Haass said Tuesday he hopes to publish recommendations by December.

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