Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill said she is willing to find a resolution to Stormont’s problems in post-election negotiations, but not if the Secretary of State is in the chair.
The republican leader said she wanted to see a return of devolved institutions that delivered for all citizens.
However, she reiterated her stance that James Brokenshire should not mediate any dialogue process that follows March’s snap election.
If the DUP and Sinn Fein are again returned as the two largest parties, they will have only three weeks to resolve their differences and form a new powersharing executive.
Stormont could be facing a return to direct rule from Westminster if that deadline passes without a deal on issues such as legacy and the Irish language.
Mrs O’Neill and party colleagues met with Mr Brokenshire at Stormont House in Belfast to discuss the current political crisis on Monday.
Outside, she said: “Sinn Fein will come at these negotiations with a willingness to find a way through to make sure we have institutions that deliver for all of our citizens.
“We have made it very clear and we repeat again that we will not return to the status quo.”
Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader accused Mr Brokenshire and the UK government of favouring unionists.
“His one-sided partisan view means he cannot be an honest broker in negotiations,” she said.
“I think the British government have continually failed to live up to their responsibilities as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, they have pandered to unionism time and time again, they have shown and demonstrated a one-sided approach when it comes to the issues of legacy.”