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Top UN envoy: leaders had ''very constructive, business like'' meeting
2004-02-19 15:11:47

Nicosia, Feb 19 (CNA) -- Alvaro de Soto, UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus, who began here today a new round of negotiations with the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides, said he had a very constructive and business-like encounter for over two hours.

He said the meeting ''went well'' and announced that talks will take place, as a general rule, every morning but did not rule out the possibility of additional meetings or changes to this schedule.

The UN envoy appealed to the two sides for a news blackout with regard to the contents of their discussions with him.

''The leaders met this morning for over two hours, it was a very constructive session with ample good will and business like spirit shown by the two sides,'' he said after today's meeting.

''Following the meeting the leaders joined me in a social encounter with Mr Verheugen, (EU Commissioner for enlargement) who is here with me, where Mr Verheugen took the opportunity to explain a little bit more about the European Commission's role in support of the UN efforts,'' de Soto said.

Asked about the programme of the meetings in the weeks ahead, he said if necessary there will be meetings at the weekends as well. ''This is not ruled out at all,'' he added.

The two leaders, he continued, will be meeting every day at 0930 local time (0730 GMT) and they reserve the afternoons for internal consultations.

''This is the general rule, there may be departures from this, sometimes they may take a morning off for some reason, there may be some other days when they decide to meet in the afternoon, but the general rule unless otherwise decided is that they will meet every morning at 0930,'' he said.

Asked if he was pleased with what he had heard this morning, he replied ''I said what I have to say about the meeting, it went well.''

Asked about applying a blackout for the media, he said ''it is highly desirable and I hope that both leaders will agree to say as little as possible, better yet nothing about what actually goes on in the room there.''

Talks resumed today after an 11-month break, since last March when Denktash led the negotiations to a deadlock. Last week the two leaders agreed to begin talks with a view at reaching agreement by March 22, holding separate simultaneous referenda a month later, something that would allow Cyprus to join the EU as a reunited country, now divided for nearly 30 years since Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern part.

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