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Straw urges both sides to respond to Annan's request
2002-11-27 16:02:59

London, Nov 27 (CNA) - Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said here today that every effort should be made to secure a settlement of the Cyprus question before the Copenhagen European Council.

Speaking in London after meeting Cyprus' Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides, Straw further said this is an historic opportunity to bring peace and prosperity to Cyprus.|

''We discussed the urgent need for a solution of the Cyprus problem which has gone on for far too long'', he said, according to a press release of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Straw said he ''congratulated Mr. Kasoulides on President Clerides' acceptance of the UN proposals as a basis for negotiation'', adding that Britain believes ''every effort must be made to secure a settlement before the Copenhagen European Council on 12 December, at which key decisions on Cyprus' candidacy will be taken''.

The British Foreign Secretary urged ''both sides to respond quickly to Kofi Annan's request for full and substantive comments by 30 November on the proposals''.

He also said that Britain believes ''we have an historic chance this year to bring peace and prosperity to the Eastern Mediterranean by means of accession to the EU by a re-united island''.

Kasoulides said the two talked about the prospects following the letter from the UN Secretary General seeking the submission of the two sides' remarks on the points they would like to negotiate.

He said the President would decide on the issue once he consults tomorrow with the National Council.

''We have accepted the plan as a basis for negotiation. Our aim is to find a solution, if possible, before Copenhagen. We see this as our aim and not as a guillotine'', Kasoulides said.

He explained that efforts would continue at the same rate even after Copenhagen.

The Helsinki European Council concluded that the Cyprus problem is not a prerequisite for accession to the EU. The European Commission has recommended that Cyprus finalise accession negotiations by the end of the year.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan submitted a solution plan to the two sides last week.

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