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US expresses regret over Cyprus deadlock
2003-03-12 17:33:40

By Demitris Apokis-- Washington, Mar 12 (CNA) -- The United States has expressed deep disappointment over the failure of the UN Secretary General's efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement during talks in The Hague and appeared to blame Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the collapse of the peace process.

Asked on the US reaction, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher made clear ''we are deeply disappointed that the Secretary General's discussions with the two leaders in The Hague did not result in an agreement to put his plan to referenda in both communities,'' adding that the United States has long supported the efforts of UN SG Kofi Annan, of his initiative to find a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem. |

''We applaud the commitment and the creativity, which the Secretary General and his Special Advisor, Mr. Alvaro De Soto, brought to this effort. Despite the setback, we remain committed to seeking a just and a durable settlement to the Cyprus problem,'' Boucher said.

He added that Annan ''has asked Mr. De Soto to prepare a detailed report to the Security Council. So the Security Council, we would expect, will address the outcome, consider the Secretary General's recommendations on the conduct of the mission at that time.''

Asked to comment on the fact that Annan in his statement in a way blamed Denktash for the stalemate, Boucher said that the Secretary General ''did describe the responses of President Papadopoulos, as well as Mr. Denktash, to the proposals for the referendum and the reasons why his efforts didn't succeed.''

''We find it very regrettable that Mr. Denktash has denied Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to determine their own future and to vote on such a fundamental issue,'' Boucher pointed out.

Asked whether the US plans to take an initiative in order to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, Boucher noted that ''it is way premature to start speculating along those lines.''

In an effort by Turkish journalists to blame Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos for the breakdown, Boucher repeated that the Secretary General described the positions of both sides and added: ''As I said, we think Turkish Cypriots should have gotten the opportunity to decide these issues in a referendum, and leave it at that.''

Concluding Boucher reiterated the importance the US attaches to reaching an agreement on Cyprus, noting that a solution would not only benefit the people of Cyprus or the security of Turkey, but also, ''Turkey's accession to the European Union.''

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

CNA/DA/KN/GP/2003

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