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Papadopoulos: Annan wants to push forward Cyprus talks
2003-02-27 18:11:58

Nicosia, Feb 26 (CNA) -- Cyprus President-elect, Tassos Papadopoulos, said here Wednesday UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants to become personally involved in the current stages of the Cyprus problem, hoping "his presence and personal contribution will push forward the talks".

Speaking after his meeting with Annan, on the first day of the UN Chief's visit to the island, Papadopoulos said he assured Annan about the Greek Cypriot side's determination to hold talks for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem with a "constructive and flexible attitude".

Confirming his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in the presence of Annan, on Thursday, Papadopoulos said he has received the new revised Annan plan.

To a question if Annan had asked for a reply to the plan from both Papadopoulos and Denktash before his departure from Cyprus, President Papadopoulos said Annan "hopes to have a reply but he has not given a deadline".

The newly-elected Cypriot president pointed out that the Secretary-General expressed his strong wish to maintain the timeframe for a solution. "He considers the timeframe very important and expressed his desire that it be kept", said Papadopoulos.

He added that he did not discuss with Annan the new revised plan because he is not familiar with it, adding "I simply outlined our views on the proposals we had".

Asked if Annan had informed him whether Ankara is committed to the procedure, Papadopoulos replied, "Annan is very convinced Ankara wants a solution. Of course, we all want a solution, the point is what kind of solution". He added that Annan "has the impression that Ankara will help find a solution".

Invited to comment on a prereferendum Denktash is reported to organise on the Annan plan in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, Papadopoulos said, "the referendum is Denktash's choice...".

Asked if such a prereferendum could cause problems to the Greek Cypriot side, the President-elect replied "this is an issue which concerns Mr. Denktash and the Turkish Cypriot community".

Regarding the submission of the new revised plan, Papadopoulos said that he received it "ten minutes before meeting Mr. Annan", adding he will spend the night studying it.

Asked whether he believes that substantial negotiations can be held and a solution secured by 7 March, President Papadopoulos replied "we have repeatedly said we are ready for substantial negotiations. It must be appreciated that we cannot find a solution alone. There is the other side involved as well. There is also the Turkish side and if it has the will, like we do, and maintains positions which can satisfy our concerns and likewise, a solution can be found. I cannot foresee Mr. Denktash's frame of mind", he added.

Papadopoulos said Annan talked about a unique opportunity for a Cyprus settlement, and not the last chance for a solution.

The new president said he will confer with his advisers on the revised plan, noting the deliberations tomorrow will be just as intense as they were today.

Asked if the timeframe, which the UN has set, allows him to negotiate with flexibility and assertively, Papadopoulos answered that this would become evident from the discussions.|

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

Annan, said on arrival he prayed the leaders in Cyprus, will come to an agreement in the coming few days on the Cyprus problem but not later than a week.


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