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ULSTER PARTY CHIEF REAFFIRMS POSITION

David Trimble said Monday his status as leader of Northern Ireland's main Protestant party was rock solid despite calls from one senior official for him to quit over a troubled peace pact with Catholic nationalists.

Earlier, William Thompson, an Ulster Unionist Party member of Parliament, blasted the British province's first-minister-designate, calling on him to quit as leader of the powerful party.

But after a three-hour meeting of its 110-member executive committee, Trimble told reporters there had been no challenges to his leadership.

The infighting, underlining fresh strains in the province's troubled peace process, came as U.S. mediator George Mitchell flew in for talks with feuding Protestant and Catholic politicians aimed at reviving the stalled Good Friday agreement.

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