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De Soto: Solution possible if there is willingness to compromise
2003-01-20 14:07:10

Nicosia, Jan 20 (CNA) - The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto has said here Monday the UN strongly believes that the chance to get a settlement on Cyprus within reason is now, by the end of February, and this will require courage, political will, willingness to compromise and very hard work.

Speaking after meeting President Glafcos Clerides, de Soto said there was ''no plan'' that he was aware of that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would visit the island.

President Clerides told reporters he had nothing new regarding a possible visit by Annan to the island.|

Asked if the UN had threatened to interrupt the UN-led negotiations if no settlement is reached by the end of February, the timeframe included in Annan's revised plan for a comprehensive settlement, President Clerides replied negatively.

Invited to say if the UN chief would stop his efforts if no settlement was reached, de Soto replied, ''I wouldn't say stop his efforts. He has a broad mandate of good offices from the Security Council but the fact is that the Secretary General in the last two or three years has devoted more efforts and resources to the good offices on Cyprus than ever before and that is because we saw an opportunity and it is not clear that an opportunity will remain unless this is taken advantage of''.

De Soto said he was ''not pessimistic about getting an agreement'' although it would be ''very difficult to say what is going to happen afterwards, which is why we strongly believe that the chance to get a settlement within reason by both sides is now, in the next few weeks, by the end of February".

An agreement would ''require courage and political will, willingness to compromise and very hard work", de Soto remarked.

Asked what the goal of today's meeting was, given the fact that the leaders of the two communities are meeting thrice a week, within the framework of the UN-led direct talks, de Soto said he tries to see them frequently in between meetings and for this reason he met Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash too, earlier this morning.

Regarding the work of the ad hoc technical committees, decided on last October in New York to deal with legislation and international treaties, de Soto said they have ''masses of work to do but at least they are approaching them by and large constructively''.

He said he did not know anything about the reported resignation of the two Turkish Cypriot members of the committees.

The committees comprise representatives from the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides, mainly legal experts.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.



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