Christofias attends EU lunch and discusses Cyprus question
by Gregoris Savva --
Brussels, Mar 21 (CNA) - Efforts to reach a settlement in Cyprus were
discussed at a brief face-to-face talk between President of the Cyprus House
of Representatives Demetris Christofias and Turkish Foreign Minister
Abdullah Gul, during a lunch held in Brussels by the EU member states for the
10 acceding countries and the three candidate states.
Christofias, who was representing Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos at the EU summit, told CNA that he called on Gul to exert pressure on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to shift from his intransigent stance in the UN- led Cyprus peace talks. The House President said that during the lunch, Greek Premier and European Council President Costas Simitis also mentioned the Cyprus question and expressed regret for the failure of the UN-led talks in The Hague, and referred to the EU Summit conclusions which also point to the need for a change in Denktash's negative stance.| Speaking during the lunch, Gul expressed his support to the continuation of efforts to reunify Cyprus and according to Christofias he said ''Turkey is ready to continue contributing towards a solution''. Christofias told CNA that the Turkish Minister also brought up the meeting he had with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, during which they agreed that the door for the solution of the Cyprus question should be kept open. Speaking at the lunch, Christofias expressed his regret for the failure in the UN effort, despite the efforts by the Cypriot President and the good will shown by the Greek Cypriot side. The House President also had brief conversations with the President of the European Commission, and the Prime Ministers of Italy and Ireland, who expressed their regret for the failure of the UN-led talks. Christofias also expressed Cyprus' regret for the war on Iraq and pointed out that he shares the conclusions of the EU Summit on the issue. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Earlier this month, the latest UN-led effort to reach a negotiated settlement collapsed in The Hague after Denktash refused to put to a referendum a proposal submitted to the two sides on the island by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan CNA/GS/RG/2003 ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY