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Government wants to see intensified talks, practical discussions
2002-03-28 09:33:05

Nicosia, Mar 28 (CNA) -- The government has said it agrees with the UN assessment that June is a target date and not a deadline, but wishes to see the peace talks intensified in the weeks ahead.

Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot side must engage in "a practical discussion of the core issues" and stressed that there is a lot of work to do to break the current deadlock.

The spokesman was critical of Turkey's attempts to inform European countries about the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side at the talks, saying this is not the appropriate thing to do at a time when there is a blackout imposed by the UN.|

"We have said in the past that June is not a deadline, it is a target date and if the direct talks extend to July, there will be no guillotine hanging over us," Papapetrou said after today's cabinet meeting.

These negotiations, he said, have a time frame and by June things should become more clear as to where the talks are going.

Papapetrou was commenting on statements by UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto that the June target date is not a deadline but it is a desirable goal.

De Soto, who concluded 22 meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash since the start of the talks on 16 January, also said on his way for consultations in Ankara, Athens and New York that he wants to see "an intensification of the negotiations."

Replying to questions, Papapetrou said the talks are not the appropriate forum for either side to make statements and speeches of a general nature about how they see a solution.

"The two sides must engage in practical discussion of the issues which Annan has described as the core issues (security, territory and refugees, guarantees, constitution)," the spokesman said, adding that to date there has been no discussion with any outcome.

Commenting on the possibility of proposals being submitted to the two sides, he said "both sides have to agree on the submission of proposals and so far we have not been asked for our consent to such a move."

Invited to comment on Denktash's assessment that there is no deadlock, Papapetrou replied "strictly speaking he may be right because the talks are continuing."

"However, time is moving on and this imposes restrictions. There is a lot of work to be done and this is why we have to find ways to break the deadlock," he said.

Direct talks are due to resume on 9 April, after de Soto returns from New York with a renewed mandate as to how to proceed.

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