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Grossman: coming weeks crucial for Cyprus
2002-09-15 14:29:15

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- New York, Sep 15 (CNA) -- US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman believes that the coming weeks are "extremely important" for Cyprus. He said he would do all he can to back the UN peace effort for a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.

Grossman, who was speaking after a meeting here with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, reiterated US support for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

The Cyprus question, Greco-Turkish relations, the EU-Turkish relationship and the situation in Iraq and the Middle East were part of the discussions Grossman had with Papandreou, as they met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.|

Praising Greek efforts against terrorism, following the arrest of members of the "November 17" group, Grossman said "we promised to do our very best to continue to support the Secretary General on his efforts especially in Cyprus."

Asked if he predicts a solution of the question of Cyprus as the EU December deadline is approaching, he said "the Minister and I agree that the next few weeks are extremely important".

The EU is expected at its December summit to invite Cyprus and other applicant countries to join, irrespective of a political settlement on the island.

"When the UN Secretary General invites President Clerides and Mr. Denktash, here in New York, in October, that's an important effort and we want to support it. We think there is a lot of progress that can be made," he added.
Noting that the Cyprus problem has been pending for years, he said there is an opportunity to make some progress.

Kofi Annan has invited President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to New York in early October to review progress in the peace talks they are engaged in, after he met with both leaders in Paris last week.

In his remarks, Papandreou said this was "a very critical period" and said every effort has to be made to use this opportunity.

"This is a great opportunity to solve a problem that has historically divided Greece and Turkey, although it is not directly a Greek-Turkish issue, it is an international issue," he added.

Cyprus, he pointed out, should be seen as "a show case of cooperation between Greece and Turkey" and Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live together, under the same roof within the European Union.

Grossman, commenting on the minister's remarks, said "I think that's very well said".

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