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Kofi Annan to visit Cyprus to boost peace effort
2002-05-03 09:04:54

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis-United Nations, May 3 (CNA) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced plans to travel to Cyprus and meet with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in an effort to enhance the face to face negotiations and make "decisive progress", meeting the June target date for an agreement.

Although no dates were given, the Secretary General is expected to arrive May 15, on route to East Timor and stay for 2-3 days. A UN spokesman said that Annan plans to call on the two leaders "separately and to meet them jointly. The dates of his visit will be announced shortly".

The announcement of Annan's trip to Cyprus was made Thursday by his special advisor on Cyprus, Alvaro De Soto, during a closed-door briefing of the members of the Security Council.

According to the UN Spokesman, "he informed them of the Secretary- General's intention to travel to Cyprus and meet with the two leaders in furtherance of his mission of good offices. The Secretary-General hopes to see decisive progress in the talks between the two leaders in the coming period".|

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged in direct talks since 16 January this year with a view at finding a comprehensive settlement.

The Secretary General' s decision was hailed by the UN Security Council.

"Members of the Council warmly welcomed and supported the Secretary- General's intention to visit the island in the near future in pursuance of the mission entrusted to him by the Council in its resolution 1250. They hoped that this would enable decisive progress to be made in the face-to-face negotiations in the period before the June target date for agreement, which the Council once again endorsed ", said the President of the Council for the month of May, Kishore Mahbubani, in a statement to the press, following the briefing by De Soto.

The Security Council members "regretted that it had not proved possible to make more progress during negotiations since the Council was last briefed, on April 4. They expressed the view that the time had now come to set down on paper areas of common ground between the two sides with the aim of establishing the component parts of a comprehensive settlement which takes full consideration of relevant UN resolutions and treaties, and, where differences remain, to narrow and remove those through a process of negotiation focused on compromise formulations."

"They urged both sides, and in particular the Turkish side, to cooperate fully with the Secretary-General's Special Adviser in such an effort," the statement said.

In a separate statement, US deputy permanent representative to the UN, ambassador James Cunningham welcomed and "strongly supported" on behalf of his country "the Secretary General's intention to visit the island in May."

"It is clear reflection - he noted - of the importance the UN and the international community place on resolving the Cyprus issue and the need for more urgency in the negotiations to reach an agreement by the June target date".

Cunningham expressed the US readiness "to continue assisting the UN Secretary General and his Special Advisor De Soto in the vital effort to reach a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue".

Prior to the Security Council's consultations, De Soto held a meeting with representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

According to Security Council sources, the decision for Annan's trip to Cyprus - the first after more than 20 years - was taken on Wednesday, during the meeting of the Secretary General with his special advisor and it was suggested by US and Britain.

Although it was initially planned not to announce it in the Council's briefing by De Soto, it was suggested at the meeting with the "5" that such an announcement would avoid "dramatization".

According to the same sources, De Soto has informed of the Secretary General's plans Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, asking for their contribution for the success of the mission.

Following the Security Council's consultations, De Soto held a meeting with

De Soto is due back in Cyprus early next week. Direct talks resume on Tuesday.

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