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Eckhard: Annan is considering his options for Cyprus
2002-11-06 15:16:10

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- United Nations, Nov 6 (CNA) ? The UN Secretary-General "is considering his options" and "he is not ready to make a decision", said UN Spokesman, Fred Eckhard.

Kofi Annan however "realises time is short", Eckhard added while replying to questions during the daily press briefing.

Referring to Tuesday's meeting, Eckhard said Annan met with his Special Advisor, noting that Alvaro De Soto had given the Secretary-General a thorough briefing on his recent round of consultations. "It is then, he said, for me to take the next decision on the next steps, on where we can go", Eckhard quoted Annan as saying.

To a question by CNA, Eckhard said Annan "has received letters from the US, UK and the EU presidency concerning Cyprus".

According to well-informed sources, the UN Secretary-General has not taken a final decision on what his next move will be. However, based on what was discussed during yesterday's meeting with his Special Advisor, Alvaro de Soto, and the new assurances he has received from the US that Turkish military officers will be helpful on the Cyprus problem, Annan is inclined to submit the plan for a Cyprus settlement next week, if the message from Ankara is confirmed by the UN too.

The plan will be given to the two sides in Cyprus together with a letter- invitation by the Secretary-General as a sign of good will and intensification of efforts, to sign an agreement by the Copenhagen European Council.

Diplomatic sources said the procedure would not stop due to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's health. He is recuperating in New York, following open-heart surgery on October 7.

De Soto will remain in New York for two or three more days where he will hold a new round of contacts with his associates and others. Before departing, he will meet again the Secretary-General when Annan's decision is expected to be finalised. De Soto will also have contacts with the interested parties and mainly the Turkish side as well as similar moves by the representatives of Britain, the US and EU officials.|

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

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