World Bulletin / News Desk
London and Dublin said they still hoped Northern Ireland's political parties could strike a deal to form a power-sharing government in the province, just hours before their deadline expires Thursday.
If the parties cannot strike an agreement, the UK province will likely be fully governed from London, although Britain is being non-committal on its options.
Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire and the Republic of Ireland's Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney have been facilitating the talks in Belfast.
"I believe that a resolution can be found and I'm urging the parties to continue focusing all of their efforts on achieving this," Brokenshire told reporters with less than four hours to go.
Coveney added: "Significant progress has been made, although there still remain gaps to be bridged on some key issues."
The power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly is a cornerstone of a peace process that ended three decades of violent conflict in the province, broadly split between Catholic Irish nationalists and Protestants backing the union with Britain.
The assembly has powers over issues including health, education, justice and the province's economy.
Tensions between the two main parties boiled over in January and the Irish republican Sinn Fein pulled out of the executive.
That triggered a March 2 snap election in which the conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) saw its lead over Sinn Fein slashed.Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Haziran 2017, 16:01