Britain says no fresh election in N.Ireland this year

Britain's new cabinet meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, London

BELFAST (Reuters) - The UK government will not call fresh elections in Northern Ireland before the end of the year and will announce how it intends to proceed beyond that next week, the British minister for the region said on Friday.

The deadline passed last week for forming a power-sharing government following elections in May and Britain's minister for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said at the time that he was legally obliged to call new elections within 12 weeks.

After Northern Ireland's main political parties said they did not expect a new vote to break the stalemate, Heaton-Harris said he had listened to the "sincere concerns" across the region about the impact and cost of an election at this time.

(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson; editing by William James)