A meeting between the Protestant Democratic Unionist party representative, Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, the leader of the Catholic Sinn Fein party, resulted in an agreement to form a power-sharing arrangement by May 8, The Times of London reported.
In London, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain had threatened to dissolve the Northern Ireland assembly and impose direct London rule if a deal was not reached by midnight.
A New York Times correspondent said the two men sat together but did not shake hands.
Paisley's party wants to continue links between Northern Ireland and Britain while Sinn Fein wants a united republic of Ireland.
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