London: Talks to end a political stalemate in Northern Ireland got under way on Thursday, with British Prime Minister David Cameron urging all sides to work "constructively".
The cross-party talks at the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast included local leaders as well as British and Irish government officials.
"It is essential that we do all that we can to lift the blockages," said Cameron in London, calling on all parties to behave "constructively and with a genuine willingness to succeed".
Northern Ireland`s assembly has been stuck in an impasse for months over budget disputes, as well as rows over divisive sectarian issues such as displays of flags and parades.
Cameron said that he and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny were expecting their representatives to report back on progress in the talks by the end of November.
The signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement peace deal in 1998 largely brought an end to 30 years of unrest known as `The Troubles`, although violence periodically flares.
But outstanding issues remain and four months of lengthy negotiations chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass last year ended with no deal.
The US State Department last month welcomed the new talks and called on all parties "to seize this opportunity to find a way forward" and help build "an enduring peace".