The former US diplomat trying to find political agreement on outstanding peace process issues in Northern Ireland has insisted his end-of-year deadline is achievable.
Ex-White House envoy to the region Dr Richard Haass has been tasked with finding resolution to long-standing disputes on flags, parades and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.
He has arrived in Belfast for another week of talks with the five parties in Stormont’s mandatory powersharing coalition.
Ahead of re-commencing dialogue, Dr Haass said the deadline given to him to obtain resolution was both “do-able and desirable”.
“It will be our objective to finalise this before Christmas,” he said.
“I think that would be ideal because everyone involved in this process and everyone in Northern Ireland would have even more reason than usual to celebrate the holidays this year.
“If this process gets to where we would like it to get, I really do think it would create a better present and better future for people across the board who live here.”
Dr Haass has been on a number of fact-finding missions to the region in the last two months but has said this visit will see a “gear shift”, with political negotiations beginning in earnest.
As well as consulting with politicians, Dr Haass and his team have met with between 50 and 60 interest groups in Northern Ireland and have received around 500 submissions to an online consultation.