Blair Gets the Irish Smiling

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If only the Mideast was this easy... Tony Blair flew up to Northern Ireland Wednesday afternoon, held seven hours of talks over the troubled peace process and got the deal back on track. Blair convinced the pro-British loyalists to accept a 10-person cabinet for the region, in which the republican Sinn Fein would have two seats. In exchange, the republicans have accepted loyalist demands to limit the scope of the intergovernmental body linking Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic in the south.

"These are the teething troubles of a deal in which the two sides still hope to peacefully pursue their original goals," says TIME London bureau chief Barry Hillenbrand. "They took this dispute to the edge, looked over and then walked back again. And they'll do that again before this is over." Sooner rather than later, since the next stumbling block in the process is the dispute over when the IRA is expected to surrender its weapons. But the principals knew this wasn't going to be easy, and they still seem to agree that the alternative to peace is too ghastly to contemplate.