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Erdogan and Persson discuss Cyprus
2002-11-27 15:37:26

Nicosia, Nov 27 (CNA) - Leader of Turkey's Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the current stage is very unfortunate for Cyprus, because of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's illness and the elections in Turkey, which both affected the peace process.

He was speaking after meeting Sweden's Prime Minister Goran Persson, who said the two discussed the plan submitted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

Persson said it is important for him to state that even if the Cyprus issue does not constitute part of the Copenhagen criteria, it was an important issue for discussion with the Turkish political leadership. The two, he added, discussed the plan submitted by the UN Secretary General, and the relevant timetables.

Erdogan told reporters that the Annan plan ''is negotiable'', adding that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will soon reply whether he believes that the plan can be a basis for negotiations.|

''Surely'', he added, ''this period is very unfortunate'', adding that ''on the one hand we have Mr. Denktash's health and on the other hand there were the elections in Turkey which affected negatively the whole procedure''. However, he said, ''we are making positive steps''.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

Annan submitted on November 11 a blueprint for a comprehensive settlement to the problem and called on the two sides to reply within seven days.

The National Council, comprising parliamentary parties, recommended on November 18 by majority vote that President Glafcos Clerides negotiate the UN proposal with a view to finding a political settlement in Cyprus.

The Turkish Cypriot side has yet to reply to Kofi Annan's request to say whether it accepts the proposal as a basis to negotiate an agreement.

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