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Year 2002 is real opportunity for Cyprus, says UN Spokesman
2002-11-05 17:17:04

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis United Nations, Nov 5 (CNA) ? The year 2002 presents a real opportunity for Cyprus, but whether it can be seized or not, is up to the two parties on the island, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard has told CNA.

Invited to comment on Monday's meeting of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan with US Ambassadors, John Negreponte and Thomas Weston (US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus), Eckhard said the two did not discuss the Iraqi issue.

''The scheduled meeting, yesterday afternoon with the US ambassador John Negreponte was not on Iraq, as many of you suspected, but on the subject of Cyprus. We are in a crunch now on the Cyprus issue", said Eckhard.|

The UN official noted, "everyone feels that the year 2002 presents a real opportunity" for a Cyprus settlement but "whether it can be seized or not is truly up to the two parties", he said.

Eckhard said the "Secretary-General with a lot of support from member states is trying to maximize the chances of success in those negotiations by the end of this year" but that it was "too early to predict how it will come out".

However "yesterday's meeting was one more step in those efforts", he added.

Annan is meeting later today his special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third. Efforts are underway to find an overall settlement before the end of the year, when Cyprus will finalise negotiations for accession to the European Union.

However, a solution is not a pre-requisite for accession to the EU, according to the Helsinki European Council conclusions.

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