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With peace breaking out all over Northern Ireland, British PM John Major apparently couldn't resist the overtures of the Irish Republican Army and agreed to start holding talks with the IRA's Sinn Fein. Earlier on, Major had insisted that the IRA clarify that their Aug. 31 cease-fire was indeed permanent -- a stance that was widely viewed as unnecessarily obstinate and taken to placate pro-British loyalists. When the IRA's chief antagonists, the Ulster Loyalists, followed up with a similar declaration on Oct. 13, "that gave Major the signal that he could go ahead," says TIME London reporter Helen Gibson. Major also lifted a ban on Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams' visiting Britain and said all border crossings with the Republic of Ireland will be opened.