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Cyprus peace talks continue in New York
2002-10-03 11:30:35

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- United Nations, Oct 3 (CNA) -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will have four hours of talks here today with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in furtherance of his mission of good offices.

Today's schedule begins with two 45-minute long separate meetings Annan's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto will have with the two leaders at their respective hotels.

Annan will then meet separately with the President and Denktash at his office on the 38th floor of the UN building for about half an hour, in de Soto's presence. The two leaders will have one adviser each at these meetings.

Later on the Secretary General will host a working lunch for Clerides and Dentkash and talks will continue at a meeting after the lunch as well.

Friday's schedule of meetings has not been made public yet but according to diplomatic sources de Soto would rather have the programme announced after today's meetings.

President Clerides and Denktash are in New York at Annan's invitation, after he had met the two leaders in Paris in early September. Denktash was admitted to hospital on Wednesday for catheterisation but this does not seem to be causing any problems to the programme of the talks.

The UN, British and American envoys appear cautious about the prospects of achieving progress at this round of talks in New York as all indications from the Denktash front are negative.

The Turkish Cypriot leader has warned that if the European Union invites Cyprus at its December summit to join the Union, peace talks on the future of the island will come to an end. A position which is contrary to what the UN Secretary General has said.

Denktash is backed by Ankara in this, saying that such a move would destroy the peace process. Furthermore Denktash insists on his firm position for recognition of his self-styled regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus, on the abolition of the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to discuss the territorial issue, one of the core issues at the negotiating table.

British and US diplomats, involved in the Cyprus peace effort, believe that a change of government in Turkey would alter the entire political scene and would strengthen those in Turkey who back the country's European course.

Annan and his special adviser seem to agree with this train of thought and believe that it would be best to put forward any ideas on a solution to the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides after the November 3 general elections in Turkey.

The Secretary General has told Turkish officials that Cyprus' accession to the EU should be considered a fait accompli, when they warn of a crisis in the region if Brussels accepts Cyprus in its ranks prior to a political settlement.

The EU has decided that such a settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition for it.

Direct talks began in January this year between Clerides and Denktash but so far no substantive progress has been achieved on the main topics of discussion (governance, security, territory and property).

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.|

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