The plenary session of political negotiations in Northern Ireland, chaired by Dr Richard Haass, is under way.
Representatives of the five main parties at Stormont began their discussions with Dr Haass and his colleague, Professor Meghan O’Sullivan, shortly after 10am.
It is expected that following an exchange of views, further fine-tuning of proposals on three contentious areas – flags, parades and how to deal with the past – will take place in the afternoon.
If an agreement cannot be successfully concluded, Dr Haass will stick by his plan to leave for the United States tomorrow.
Dr Haass has been exploring a range of solutions to problems in the peace process since September.
The talks are intended to provide a framework for when contentious flags can be flown, for dealing with the victims of 30 years of violence and for gaining consensus on a new body to decide where members of the loyal orders and republicans can march.
Dr Haass came as a facilitator to Northern Ireland at the invitation of First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Early last Tuesday, Dr Haass and Ms O’Sullivan agreed they had not found consensus for their proposals and they travelled home to their families in the US for Christmas Day.
They returned to Belfast over the weekend and have been meeting Northern Ireland’s five main political parties.
Today they will make what will be their final push to broker a deal.