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Cypriot President rules out continuation of talks until December
2004-02-24 09:57:55

Nicosia, Feb 24 (CNA) -- President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here today that the goal of the current UN-led effort to find a negotiated settlement before Cyprus accedes to the European Union is to adhere to the timeframe Secretary General Kofi Annan has set out.

Speaking as he left the Presidential Palace for another meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Dentkash, the Cypriot President said one of the key issues under discussion is Turkey's demand to have the agreed solution ratified after Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots conduct separate simultaneous referenda.

Asked to comment on Denktash's suggestion that talks can continue until December, President Papadopoulos replied ''no, I have nothing of the sort in mind, we have begun talks with a view at reaching a settlement that would satisfy us that it will be accepted by the people by the end of the timeframe Annan has set out.''

Invited to comment on Turkey's plans to ratify an agreement after the referenda in Cyprus, the President said ''this is one of the fundamental issue of our discussions.''

Papadopoulos and Denktash embarked last week, in the presence of Annan's special adviser Alvaro de Soto, on a new attempt to find a negotiated settlement before May 1. They have had two meetings so far and are said to begin substantive discussions as of today.

Technical committees, comprising legal and constitutional experts from both sides, are also holding regular meetings to finalise the text of legislation and international treaties that would be in place after a deal is reached. A committee on the economy has also been set up to look into problems that might arise after a solution.

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