BELFAST: The British government on Monday gave Northern Ireland's squabbling parties extra time to reach a deal to end their stalemate and form a power-sharing executive, after a deadline to do so expired.
"We now have a short window of opportunity," Northern Ireland minister James Brokenshire said in Belfast, adding that the parties had "a short few weeks".
Brokenshire said the failure of the talks so far was "extremely disappointing" and would cause "widespread dismay" in the province.
He said that despite the British government's efforts, "agreement at this stage has not proved possible" as there were "significant gaps" between the Democratic Unionist Party and Irish nationalists Sinn Fein.
But he added: "I believe that there remains an overwhelming desire among the political parties... here for strong and stable devolved government".
With no government in place, Northern Ireland has not been able to approve a budget this year and Brokenshire warned there would be an impact on public services.
Sinn Fein brought down Northern Ireland's executive in January in a dispute with the DUP.
Elections were then held earlier this month in which Sinn Fein made major gains but the DUP remained the largest party.
Three weeks of talks between the two sides failed to reach an agreement by a 1500 GMT Monday deadline.