Overnight talks in Belfast have failed to produce an agreement to resolve deep-seated divisions over parades and flags that triggered widespread rioting in Northern Ireland.

Richard Haass, director of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations and ex-President George W. Bush's envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2003, led the multiparty talks.

The hope was that he could forge a compromise plan by the end of the year on areas of bitter dispute: parades, British and Irish flags and emblems, and remembering the dead from Northern Ireland's four-decade conflict.

Talks ended at around 4 a.m. on Tuesday without agreement.

Haass — who now will go back to the U.S. — insisted the process is "still alive" and said he might return to Belfast before the end of the year.