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Annan hopes to call for the resumption of talks shortly
2004-02-03 20:04:05

by Demetris Apokis

Washington, Feb 3 (CNA) -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed hope that he will be able to call for the resumption of Cyprus peace talks shortly.

Speaking here after his meeting and lunch with US President George Bush, Annan said that after his consultations last week with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, the Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and even though he has not yet spoken to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash ''everyone seems ready to resume'' talks.

Annan said in his statement: ''I think in my last report to the Security Council on this issue I made it quite clear that I would be prepared to resume negotiations and offer my good offices if I felt that the parties have the will and the determination to engage further and sustain the effort until we have a settlement. Over the past week I had the chance to talk to the Turkish Prime Minister, the Greek Cypriot President, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Greece, I haven't spoke to Mr. Denktash yet but everyone seems ready to resume. And I hope to be able to invite them to a meeting shortly."

Asked what he expects from the parties, Anan recalled he had already consulted with Greece, Turkey and President Papadopoulos, noting that he was satisfied and that he hoped that he would soon send invitations for talks.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Efforts are continuing to resume the stalled peace talks to enable a reunited Cyprus to join the European Union on May 1 this year.

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