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BLAIR, IRISH PRIME MINISTER VOW TO ROUT IRA DISSIDENTS

Demonstrating how their governments were "marching in step together," the British and Irish prime ministers pledged Wednesday to rout Irish Republican Army dissidents for the sake of defending Northern Ireland's peace agreement.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew to Ireland's Ashford Castle for two hours of talks with Bertie Ahern, his Irish counterpart, 11 days after a car bomb planted by the dissident group calling itself the Real IRA killed 28 people and wounded more than 330 in the Northern Ireland town of Omagh.

After their meeting, Ahern and Blair stood shoulder to shoulder in the County Mayo sunshine and promised to imprison armed opponents of the Northern Ireland peace agreement -- an accord that, ironically, offers early parole for more than 400 IRA members and pro-British militants.

Blair and Ahern expect emergency sessions of their parliaments in London and Dublin next week to pass new anti-terror laws designed to give police a more pivotal role in convicting suspected members of outlawed paramilitary groups.

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