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Simitis and Bush pledge strong support for Annan's efforts on Cyprus
2002-11-16 23:42:09

By Demetris Apokis -- Washington, Nov 16 (CNA) ? The Cyprus problem and the UN Secretary- General's efforts for a political settlement on Cyprus were among the issues which US President George Bush and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis talked about during their telephone conversation yesterday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Mcclellan said.

The two men expressed strong support for Annan's efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.|

Referring to Bush's telephone conversations with world leaders, Mcclellan told reporters Friday that the American president also talked with Prime Minister Simitis. "They had a warm and constructive call, reflecting the strength of the US-Greek partnership, and both leaders agreed on the historic and strategic importance of advancing Turkey's evolution towards the European Union," he noted.

"They also expressed strong support for UN Secretary General Annan's efforts to foster a political settlement for Cyprus", the Spokesman added.

Asked what is expected of Greece to do regarding Turkey entering the EU, the Spokesman said "?Turkey has an important role to play in the region, and you know we are going to continue working with other countries and talking to them as well".

He further pointed out that Bush wished the Greek premier "continuing success in preparing for the 2004 Olympics in Athens".

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory. The UN Secretary General submitted a plan on Monday to the leaders of the two communities asking them to take some time to consider it and reply to him by November 18.

Annan hopes his initiative will help the parties focus on the decisions that they should take in the next few weeks in order to seize the opportunity at hand and bring about a settlement.

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