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Foreign Minister briefs fully US envoy on Greek Cypriot positions
2002-10-26 21:19:49

Nicosia, Oct 26 (CNA) -- The US must be in a better position now to understand more clearly the positions Nicosia advocates at the UN-led peace talks on various aspects of the Cyprus question, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said here today, after an hour long meeting with US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Tom Weston.

The Minister also said the meeting focused on UN efforts to find a political settlement in Cyprus, taking into consideration different timeframes with regard to the island's accession to the European Union, the Turkish elections and the state of health of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who is recovering in a New York hospital from open heart surgery.

Kasoulides, in reply to press questions, said President Glafcos Clerides could not sit at the negotiating table for direct talks with anybody else than Denktash, as things stand in the foreseeable future.|

''We outlined our positions in order to clarify them beyond any doubt as far as various aspects of the Cyprus question are concerned,'' the minister said, adding that in this context ''the US is in a position to understand even more clearly where we stand.''

Asked if the Greek Cypriot side wishes to see Denktash remain as its interlocutor at the talks, Kasoulides said Denktash represents the Turkish Cypriot community and this is how things are at present.

''If things change, then we shall see what to do,'' he added.

Invited to clarify whether this latest comment implied replacing President Clerides at the negotiating table, he replied ''we have not reached that point and I do not think we shall, but obviously the President of the Republic cannot sit at direct talks with any other than Mr Denktash, as things stand in the foreseeable future.''

Replying to other questions, he said efforts to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus will continue after December irrespective of other developments, if there is no agreed solution by that time.

''I do not think that any of those involved in these efforts will close its books if there is no settlement by December,'' he said.

Weston arrived in Cyprus today for a five-day visit. He will be received by President Clerides on Wednesday.

UN-led direct talks, which began in January, between Clerides and Denktash have so far failed to produce any substantive progress because of Denktash's insistence on the creation of two separate states. Clerides is working for a bizonal bicommunal federation, in line with UN resolutions.

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