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UN chief makes statement after meeting Clerides and Denktash
2002-09-06 10:37:41

By Maria Myles-- Paris, Sep 6 (CNA) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said here Friday he believes the gaps dividing the two parties to the Cyprus problem could be bridged, noting that on some issues they are smaller than when the UN-led direct talks began.

In a statement issued after separate meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, and a lunch he hosted for them, Annan said he asked the leaders of the two communities to return to Cyprus and work on the issues which he highlighted to them and meet him once again in New York on October 3 and 4, stressing that there is an opportunity at hand which is "waiting to be seized".

In his statement, Annan says he very much hopes that the leaders will tackle the matters he discussed with them "with a sense of urgency" before their next meeting, noting that his Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto, will be working with them "to help them achieve the requisite progress".

Emphasising that he has seen "a great deal of speculation in the press, much of it pessimistic", Kofi Annan said his discussions today confirm his belief that though serious differences remain, the elements of a comprehensive settlement that would meet the basic needs of both sides do, in fact, exist.

The UN Secretary-General said each side has its own distinct and strongly held perspective, both on the history of the Cyprus problem and on the way forward, expressing the view however that the gaps dividing the parties can be bridged.

Following is the UN Secretary-General's full statement:

"I met with each Cypriot leader, first with H.E. Mr. Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, then with H.E. Mr. Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, after which I hosted them for lunch together.

I have asked the leaders to go back to the island and work with my Special Adviser, Mr. De Soto, on the issues that I highlighted to them today, and to meet with me once more in New York on 3 and 4 October.

I very much hope that the leaders will tackle the matters I discussed with them with a sense of urgency before our next meeting. Mr. de Soto will be working with them to help them achieve the requisite progress.

I have seen a great deal of speculation in the press, much of it pessimistic. My discussions today confirm my belief that, though serious differences remain, the elements of a comprehensive settlement that would meet the basic needs of both sides do, in fact, exist.

Each side has its own distinct and strongly held perspective, both on the history of the Cyprus problem and on the way forward. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that the gaps dividing the parties can be bridged. On some issues, I feel they are quite a bit smaller than when these talks began. There is an opportunity at hand, waiting to be seized".|

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