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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IRA Rejects Demands To Restore Cease-Fire

BELFAST -- The Irish Republican Army said Thursday it still hopes for all-party peace talks in Northern Ireland but offered no assurances it would not attack again.

The outlawed group, whose Feb. 9 London bombing killed two people and caused millions in damage, rejected demands by the British and Irish governments that it reinstate its 17-month cease-fire before negotiations.

"There is only one place for all the political representatives of the Irish people to go and that is to the negotiating table,'' the IRA said in its first pronouncement since claiming responsibility for the bombing.

The statement blamed British Prime Minister John Major for the cease-fire breakdown. "[John Major] has acted in bad faith throughout the period of the IRA cessation, introducing one new precondition after another.''

On the question of whether the London bomb was a "one off'' or presaged more attacks, the statement said the IRA would "assert Irish national rights in the face of British denial for as long as is necessary.''

The British and Irish governments were trying Thursday to agree on an approach to resurrect the peace process. A summit is tentatively scheduled for the British and Irish prime ministers, Major and John Bruton, later this month.

But both governments have barred the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party from contact with elected ministers. Instead, Bruton's aides will meet Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and other party officials Friday in Dublin.

The north's British Protestant leaders have refused to negotiate with Sinn Fein until the IRA shows its cease-fire is "permanent.''

The IRA's statement stressed that its leaders would not take orders from Sinn Fein. British and Irish leaders have demanded that Adams persuade the IRA to restore the cease-fire. "We will listen carefully to any parties or persons who have an opinion or advice to offer us,'' the statement said, "but in the final analysis we make our own decisions and follow our own counsel.''

Meanwhile, an extra 500 British soldiers were flown into Northern Ireland on Thursday to bolster security along the border that divides the British-ruled province from the rest of Ireland.