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Annan sends letter to Turkey, Greece over Cyprus security
2003-02-06 12:54:20

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- New York, Feb 6 (CNA) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has sent letters to the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, calling on them to sign soon an agreement on Cyprus' security, a Greek Foreign Ministry source revealed here Wednesday after Annan's meeting with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Papandreou told Greek journalists after the 45-minute meeting that the talks covered the crisis over Iraq, the Cyprus problem, Zimbabwe and the situation in the Korean peninsula.

Present at the meeting were UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Sir Kieran Prendergast and Director of the European Section of the Peacekeeping Operations Department Joachim Hutter.|

Papandreou was in New York as an observer, in his capacity as chairman of the European Council of Ministers, at yesterday's Security Council meeting to listen to US Secretary of State Colin Powell speech over Iraq.

The Greek minister also had meetings with UN Weapons Chief Inspector, Hans Blix, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Mohamed ElBaradei and Powell.

Regarding Cyprus, Papandreou said Kofi Annan stressed his "dedication, his willingness to insist over the 28th February (the timeframe set by the UN to find a Cyprus settlement), and do everything to find a solution until that date".

"We thanked him for his efforts and what he intends to do and we are ready to continue our efforts regarding the EU and wherever Greece is involved. Especially Greece which deals with the issue of security and which must discuss it with the Turkish side", said Papandreou.

He pledged Greece's readiness to discuss the issue whenever Turkey is ready, "to sit down at the negotiating table and solve this chapter within the framework of the Annan plan".

Papandreou said the Secretary-General has not talked about a new revised plan, neither said what his intentions will be.

He said he will be actively involved with the effort so that negotiations to find a settlement can continue, stressing he has not given up yet but will continue with more intensity the effort by 28 February.

Asked if he thinks there can be a solution by the end of the month, Papandreou replied, "If both sides can proceed with the help of the UN, surely, why not?"

Invited by CNA to comment on reports that Turkey had asked the US to maintain, a more favourable stance regarding the Cyprus problem in order for Turkey to grant its support over the Iraqi issue, Papandreou said that both the US and the Secretary-General, who was aware of the reports, believe the two issues are not linked.

"The US have repeatedly stressed that they do not associate the two issues and have said it publicly and have said it to us too and Mr. Annan told me that such association does not exist", said Papandreou.

Regarding security, Papandreou said Greece is ready to negotiate the issue. "We will carry out contacts with the Turkish side and hope it will respond", he said.

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


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