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Trimble Visiting White House

With peace beginning to prosper in Northern Ireland, the top minister of its newly formed government was meeting Monday with President Clinton.

David Trimble, the leader of Northern Ireland's major British Protestant party who holds the top post in the newly seated government, was expected to brief Mr. Clinton at the White House about the first few weeks of the new cabinet's operations.

Trimble also was expected to explore whether Mr. Clinton would make a statement encouraging the Irish Republican Army to move ahead with decommissioning its weapons.

White House spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said only that Mr. Clinton expected to discuss all aspects of the Good Friday accord with Trimble. The accord laid the framework for sharing power between in Northern Ireland's republicans and loyalists.

Also expected to be on the agenda was the possibility of a third presidential trip to Northern Ireland to underscore support for the peace process.

IRA disarmament is a key issue in Northern Ireland. Trimble's Ulster Unionists agreed to form Northern Ireland's four-party administration only on condition that the IRA start to disarm by February.

Sinn Fein and the IRA say that deadline was agreed upon. Instead, the IRA has begun negotiations with a Belfast-based commission that is hoping to take possession of the IRA's weapons by May.

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