Haass optimistic with progress of NI talks

Special U.S. envoy Dr. Richard Haass has indicated he is pleased with the progress of talks to resolve still-contentious issues in Northern Ireland.

Richard Haass from Belfast Telegraph

Richard Haass from Belfast Telegraph

“I believe there is a real chance to succeed,” Haass was quoted in a story by the Irish Independent. “But, that is just that – a real chance is not a guarantee. Obviously it depends upon the willingness of some people to make some tough decisions and then defend them.”

The talks, which are to conclude by Christmas, are focused on outstanding issues not dealt with by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement: flags and emblems; parades; and dealing with the legacy of the past.

According to the Belfast Telegraph: Haass is best known as the former US Envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001-03. He has been president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think-tank, since 2003. He previously worked for the US State Department and received its Distinguished Honor Award for his work in Northern Ireland.