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Annan says June target for Cyprus agreement appropriate
2002-05-14 11:00:56

Larnaca, May 14 (CNA) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said today that the target date of June for an agreement on the main issues of the Cyprus problem is wholly appropriate and noted that he was concerned at the slow progress so far in direct talks between the leaders of the two communities on the island.

Speaking on his arrival at Larnaca Airport, Annan said decisive progress is needed in the coming period and pointed out that he came to the island to highlight the great responsibility the two leaders have undertaken, to urge them to forge ahead with a shared sense of urgency and a willingness to compromise in earnest.

The Secretary General noted that "this is an historic opportunity, and I am convinced that these two particular leaders, uniquely steeped in the history of the island, can rise to the occasion".

Annan said he was "happy to set foot on Cyprus" and conveyed his "best wishes to all Cypriots".

He added "the direct talks between HE Mr. Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and HE Mr. Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, have been going on for almost four months, at my invitation", adding that his Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto "is there to assist them, in the exercise of my mission of good offices".

"The start of these talks raised hopes greatly, not only in Cyprus, but in the region and beyond", he said, adding that "the two leaders, without any prompting from outside, set their sights on June to achieve their goal".

Annan said "this target date, endorsed by the Security Council, is wholly appropriate if the chance which is now open is to be seized".

The Secretary General noted that he follows the process "closely" and said "the Security Council, despite its large agenda, has turned its attention to Cyprus every month since February".

"I am concerned at the slow progress, as are the members of the Security Council", he said, adding that "decisive progress is needed in the coming period".

"I want also to discuss with them how they can move forward more effectively so as to resolve the main issues by the end of June", he added.

The Secretary General noted that "this is an historic opportunity, and I am convinced that these two particular leaders, uniquely steeped in the history of the island, can rise to the occasion".

?nvited to say how optimistic he is Annan said "we should see."|

He said he would be making a fresh statement to the press on his departure from the island.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged in face-to-face talks since mid-January this year, with a view to negotiating until the problem is solved.

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