Britain will not call fresh N.Ireland elections next week - minister

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

BELFAST (Reuters) - Britain's Northern Ireland Minister said on Thursday that he would take time to decide whether to call fresh elections as talks continue between London and Brussels on revising post-Brexit trade rules for the region.

The British government in November pushed back a deadline to hold what would be the second election within a year to the Northern Ireland assembly to provide space for progress in the talks between Britain and the European Union.

Under legislation introduced at the time, a 12-week clock to hold the election starts on Jan. 19 and Chris Heaton-Harris said he would not be calling an election next week.

"I have 12 weeks to reflect on what I need to do," Heaton-Harris told reporters after talks with Irish Foreign Minister Michéal Martin.

Northern Ireland has been without a power-sharing government since the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) began a boycott last February in protest at post-Brexit checks on some goods moving from the rest of the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland.

They refused to return after an election in May made Irish nationalists Sinn Fein the largest party for the first time.

(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, writing by Padraic Halpin in Dublin)