DUBLIN, Ireland -- Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams warned on Wednesday that the Northern Ireland peace process was in "deep crisis" as he left for key talks in the United States.

"I agree with the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern) when he says that there is very little likelihood of any breakthrough in Washington," Adams told reporters as he prepared to board a flight to the U.S.Leading players in efforts to bring a lasting peace to Northern Ireland are gathering in Washington for meetings with President Bill Clinton to coincide with Friday's celebrations of St. Patrick's Day, Ireland's national day.

They must try to restart a process which has stalled after Britain last month suspended Northern Ireland's home-rule institutions over lack of progress on disarmament by Irish Republican Army guerrillas.

Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally in the struggle for a united Ireland, renewed its call for Britain to restore the power-sharing institutions which had brought together majority Protestants and representatives of the Catholic minority.

"The process is in deep crisis. It's in deep crisis because there is no political center of gravity," Adams said.