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STATEMENT BY MR. ALVARO DE SOTO, THE SPECIAL ADVISOR ON CYPRUS OF THE UNSG 2002-03-28 19:01:34

The Special Advisor of the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr Alvaro de Soto left yesterday from Cyprus in order to have contacts in Athens, Ankara and New York. Upon his departure from Larnaca Airport Mr de Soto made the following statement to the Press:

"I am leaving today for meetings in Ankara tomorrow with the Turkish Government and the day after I will be in Athens for meetings with the Greek Government. From there I will proceed during the weekend to New York. As I believe you all know the Secretary General has decided to contact a review at approximately mid-point and in the process of the talks that began on the 16th of January. Perhaps I should explain what I mean mid-point. When we say mid-point we mean between the date these talks started (16th January) and what the Security Council has called the target date for the completion of the task. This is a date as you know which was mentioned by Mr Denktash and by Mr Clerides separately. It is not a deadline in the sense that some guillotine is going to fall if they do not complete the task by the month of June. It is as we see it a goal that they had set themselves and it is a desirable goal.

The Secretary General is lending his good offices in this effort and these talks are taking place at the invitation of the Secretary General as was agreed between the two leaders. Nevertheless they are direct meetings and it is essential that the two leaders who are responsible for the task that they have undertaken and we wish to echo the encouragement that was issued by the members of the Security Council when I last briefed them in late February that they should approach their task with a sense of urgency, political determination and willingness to give ant take in this negotiation in order to achieve the highly desirable and long postponed goal of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

The review will be contacted by the Secretary General at the beginning of next week. Toward the end of the week I expect to be briefing the members of the Security Council and then returning for the resumption of the talks on 9th April in the afternoon at the regular time which is 4 p.m. when the two leaders normally meet unless they decide otherwise. The two leaders have held 22 meetings until now in this face of the talks. It is going on for ten weeks now and we feel that this is a good time to try to assess how things are going. I know that you will be curious to know how things are going and that you will be interested in hearing an evaluation of what is the state of play in the talks. I am afraid that on that I cannot give you anything firstly because I have to complete the circuit as it were by these consultations in Ankara and Athens and secondly because as you will understand it is my duty to report to the Secretary General and subsequently to the members of the Security Council. Since the beginning we have emphasized, and particularly now, the importance of confidentiality of the talks and frankly we feel that already more is being said about them than it should be."

Answering to the question if after the review of the talks in New York, he expects from the Secretary General of the United Nations any kind of intervention in the talks, Mr de Soto said: "What I hope that we will be seeing is an intensification of the negotiation between the two leaders. What we will do will essentially depend on the needs as we evaluate them at the time and this is precisely what we are going to discuss in New York."

Asked whether he is satisfied as somebody who helps the procedure from his presence at the talks, Mr de Soto said: "I will not be satisfied until there is a comprehensive settlement agreed on." -----------------

27/3/2002

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