Declaring that the time for tough choices is at hand, the American chairman of Northern Ireland's peace talks set a two-week deadline Wednesday for feuding leaders to strike a deal.
"We believe, and we have informed the participants, that the time for discussion is over," said former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, who has overseen the negotiations on Northern Ireland's political future since June 1996. "It is now time for decision."
He said that after nearly two years, negotiators have "considered the issues at length and in detail. The participants know what needs to be done. It's now time to do it."
He met individually with each of the eight participating parties Monday and Tuesday to inform them of his intention to pursue the April 9 deadline.