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President-US envoy discuss ways to make headway in peace talks
2002-06-13 22:06:45

Nicosia, Jun 13 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides and US Special Coordinator for Cyprus at the State Department Thomas Weston exchanged views here today about how to move the peace process forward, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced.

He said that Weston, in Cyprus after talks in Ankara and Athens, appeared optimistic that the current process can lead to a negotiated settlement and added that the President stressed his firm determination to achieve a solution but also pointed out that absence of a settlement cannot halt Cyprus' accession course to the European Union.|

"The President and Weston reviewed developments in the peace effort and exchanged views on how this process can move forward and become more productive," Papapetrou said after this morning's Presidential Palace meeting.

Both said that time restraints are very pressing, he added.

He said his impression from today's meeting is that the US does not have any negative remarks to make about the way the Greek Cypriot side is handling the talks.

"The President reiterated his wish and determination to work for an agreement on Cyprus and said he is not at the negotiation table for tactical reasons with a view to serving other political objectives but to settle the problem," Papapetrou said.

President Clerides made it clear to Weston that Cyprus' goal to join the EU cannot be obstructed by possible lack of progress towards a settlement, as this is stipulated in EU decisions in Helsinki (that a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition for it).

Replying to questions, the spokesman said Weston appeared to be generally optimistic that there is a chance to see this process lead to a settlement.

"However this assessment is based more on an evaluation of the situation rather than concrete moves. We have no specific facts, decisions or moves to justify this view," he added.

Papapetrou said this rather optimistic outlook is shared by British envoy for Cyprus Lord David Hannay, who commended the Greek Cypriot side on its flexibility at the talks and expressed regret at Denktash's refusal to understand that progress can be achieved by end of June.

President Clerides and Denktash are participating in direct talks, under UN auspices, since January this year. No progress has been achieved so far even though both sides have set the end of June as a target date for progress. Denktash was first to set this time constraint and Clerides agreed with it. The UN and other key players followed suit.

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