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Annan stands by his timetable on Cyprus
2002-11-22 15:49:52

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis United Nations, Nov 22 (CNA) ? The UN Secretary-General remains firm in the timetable he gave to the two sides in Cyprus to reach a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem by December 12, when the Copenhagen European Council will be held.

A statement by the Secretary-General's Spokesman on the meeting Kofi Annan had Friday with his Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto in The Hague said Annan is encouraged by the generally positive reaction to his blueprint, submitted on November 11, and looks forward to receiving the two sides' substantive reactions to move the process ahead in earnest.

He also said de Soto would return to the region to continue his consultations.

"The Secretary-General today met with his Special Advisor on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, to take stock of efforts to solve the Cyprus problem," the Spokesman said.

"He (the SG) is encouraged by the generally positive reaction to his plan that is emerging, and wants to press ahead with the parties in accordance with the calendar which is part and parcel of the plan and which is designed to take advantage of the opportunity that is available now," the Secretary-General's Spokesman added.

During The Hague meeting today, the two "discussed steps for engaging the parties intensively in the next week or so," the Spokesman said, adding that the "Secretary-General looks forward to receiving their substantive reactions with a view to moving ahead in earnest."

"The Secretary-General will also remain in contact with the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey on the matter, and his Special Advisor will return to the region to continue his consultations," the Spokesman concluded.

According to sources, the Secretary General will be back in New York on December 4.|

Asked whether he has any indication when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would give him his answer to the plan Annan submitted to the two sides, the Spokesman said "we know that Mr. Denktash has health problems, that he remains in New York and has indicated that he needed a bit more time for consultations."

He expressed hope that the UN "will be getting some more definitively remarks from him in the future."

To a question how many days Denktash had asked for an extension and whether it was given, the Spokesman said he could not confirm that.|

The Greek Cypriot side replied Monday to the UN within the requested time framework of seven days from the day the UN proposal was presented on November 11.

However, the Turkish Cypriot side failed to meet Monday's deadline. Denktash is still recovering in New York since October 7 following open-heart surgery.

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

It is expected to be invited by the Copenhagen EU Summit, along with other nine candidate countries, to join the EU.

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