The main drawback in these current peace talks, as in so many previous examples, resides not so much in the differing agendas that both sides bring to the table but rather in their mutual failure to maintain focus, to concentrate upon one common course of action and follow this through to the very end.

This is because such negotiations are often exposed to too much outside interference; they risk falling foul of external events and whatever popular mood swings decide to surface before, during and even after the time allocated for debate.

Incidents of extreme and negative aspect, self-serving policy decisions, unsettling moves in one direction or the other, all these conspire to frustrate whatever was the purpose of formal discussion in the first place. Principal issues are soon sidetracked and darker motives begin to emerge and dominate until that inevitable breakdown in communication occurs.

It must therefore be of paramount importance to prevent all such distractions whenever peace initiatives are undergoing evaluation. There is also a requirement to remain reasonably certain that, no matter what decisions may then result, they will not trigger uncontrolled outbursts of dissent nor any violent activities aimed at overturning the agreements reached.

The path to peace here is a narrow one with much falling away of the ground on either side. Keeping everyone on that path will need something far more supportive than just good intentions, political determination and economic largesse. It will need something like this.

Without it, no peace process whatsoever has even the slightest chance of any long-term success. And as for short-term prospects, these would seem scarcely worth the effort of a nine month wild goose chase into what is still very much uncharted territory.