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Agreement possible on main parts by December, de Soto says
2002-11-30 15:27:42

by Costas Iordanides -- Athens, Nov 29 (CNA) - The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said today it is still possible to secure a settlement on the main portions of Kofi Annan's plan for a Cyprus solution before the European Council in Copenhagen on December 12.

Speaking after meeting Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou in Athens, de Soto also said negotiations will continue on other remaining aspects after Copenhagen and the time until the referendum, scheduled for March 30, 2003.|

De Soto said Annan had submitted a comprehensive plan, the purpose of which was ''to stimulate the negotiations and to keep the framework to conclude negotiations''.

However, this was impossible, he said, due to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's health. Denktash is recovering in New York following open-heart surgery on October 7.

''That is why he had asked the two leaders to provide the UN directly with any suggestions, amendments and changes of the text so that we accelerate the process'', de Soto added.

Noting that it was clear there was no time left, de Soto said ''we are nevertheless convinced that it is possible to secure the settlement on the main portions that should be agreed in advance of the EU summit in Copenhagen''.

He said ''negotiations will continue on other remaining aspects after Copenhagen and in time for the referendum''.

Papandreou said ''surely we all prefer a solution before Copenhagen'', adding that during his visit to Ankara he will discuss with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Yakis the issue of security which Turkey has raised, since it is also a guarantor power.

He said Greece would like the dynamic for a solution to the Cyprus problem to be maintained and pointed out that the UN is aiming to get a solution before Copenhagen.

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.


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