Tony Blair today confirmed a Northern Ireland peace deal has not emerged from intensive all-party talks.
But the British Prime Minister insisted that IRA disarmament was in sight if commitments to work the devolved Stormont institutions were given during further discussions next week.
Urging the parties not to let the opportunity slip, he said: “We believe we can resolve issues to do with ending paramilitary activity and putting weapons beyond use.
“We believe what is now on offer is reasonable in substance and historic in its meaning,” he said after power-sharing talks at Leeds Castle in Kent.
Mr Blair and the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had pinned their hopes on breaking the political impasse during the talks.
Unionists were demanding an end to the IRA before agreeing to revive the Assembly and cabinet in Belfast, which were suspended two years ago amid claims of republican spying.
During the negotiations a major offer by the Provisionals to empty their arms dumps was made.
But Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists also wanted sweeping changes to the Good Friday Agreement, including a system of holding ministers to account.
That could not be resolved during the discussions.
“If agreement cannot be reached when its clear it should be reached we will find a different way to move this process forward,” Mr Blair warned.
Although Mr Blair said no IRA statement was given to Government he was confident that the weapons issue which had dogged the peace process has been resolved.
Now the deadlock was over how the political institutions at Stormont would function.
Mr Blair said: “The issue of ending the violence as a result of what we discussed and the outline of what we have got here, I think that can be done.
“I can’t believe myself that this set of institutional issues is going then to scupper what otherwise would be a very good deal.”
Mr Ahern claimed the talks had set up the chance to secure the acts of completion on decommissioning, troop reductions and the transfer of policing powers from Westminster to Belfast.
He said: “It’s absolutely vital that we do not falter at the last hurdle.
“I urge all the parties and particularly those in positions of power and responsibility to finish the job in the interests of all the people in Northern Ireland.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams insisted IRA disarmament had not been the reason why the talks failed.
He hit out at the DUP for refusing to make any sort of compromise.
“The IRA is not the problem,” the West Belfast MP said.
“It’s an unwillingness of elements of political unionism to embrace a process of change.
“How can any party expect to come to negotiations and not negotiate, and not talk to other parties?”
The Sinn Fein chief also claimed the Government had finally agreed to end delays over setting up an inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
Loyalist killers who shot the lawyer were aided by police and military intelligence, according to two major inquiries.
Mr Adams added: “On Thursday we were given a written note saying they were going to have an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.”
DUP leader Ian Paisley insisted his party needed more proof the IRA was going to wind up before they would sign up to any deal.
The 78-year-old leader said: “The Prime Minister tells us he believes we shall see very shortly this begin to happen.
“I’m too long in the tooth and I’m too old to be bluffed. We are not going to be bluffed.
“We say we will believe it when we see it.”