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Grossman: First commit to Annan's vision and then negotiate
2002-12-04 09:56:40

Nicosia, Dec 4 (CNA) -- US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman expressed here today the belief that there is a ''historical opportunity'' for a Cyprus settlement and called on both sides on the island, as well as on the governments of Turkey and Greece, to ''seize it.''

Grossman, who was received this morning by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, said afterwards that he did not think ''anyone believes that the sun will come up'' on the 13th of December, when the EU summit in Copenhagen ends.

''What we are trying to say is there is a possibility to get going here and make rapid progress,'' he said.

Reiterating the strong support of his government to Cyprus' accession to the EU and to the efforts by the UN Secretary General for a Cyprus settlement, he said that ''the SG's proposal is that people commit to the vision in his plan and then negotiate it for some months after.''|

Asked if it would be a ''disaster'' if no agreement for a settlement was reached by the Copenhagen summit, Grossman expressed the belief that ''people will see this opportunity and take it'' so that after Copenhagen ''we will be using (instead of disaster) the word, that we have seized a great opportunity.'' Invited to say whether the efforts to reach a settlement should stop in a few days if there was no settlement by Copenhagen, Grossman said that ''President Clerides has just made a very important point, that the world does not stop on the 12th of December.''

''Indeed the SG's proposal is that people commit to the vision in his plan and then negotiate it for some months after. It's in the SG's proposal itself. So I don't think anyone believes that the sun will come up on the 13th of December. What we are trying to say is there is a possibility to get going here and make rapid progress. And we support the SG's efforts and ambassador De Soto's efforts in that regard.''

Asked whether during his meetings yesterday in Ankara he identified any changes to the Turkish policy on Cyprus that made him optimistic, the US senior diplomat said that, as he had told President Clerides, he left Ankara last night ''believing there is a desire to take this opportunity.''

''I felt the day that I spent in Ankara yesterday with Deputy (Defence) Secretary (Paul) Wolfowitz led me to believe that there is an opportunity that exists and that the Turkish side, the Greek side, the Turkish government, the Greek government, all should seize it.''

Grossman, who after his meeting with Clerides crossed over into the island's Turkish-occupied part of Nicosia to meet Turkish Cypriot politicians, said the purpose of his short stay was to visit both sides ''and say that in our view, there is a great-great opportunity waiting for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots over the next few days and there are many challenges and there are many difficulties, but we think this is a time of historical opportunity.''

Reiterating that the US had strongly supported Cyprus' accession to the EU and also efforts by the UN Secretary General to bring a settlement to the Cyprus problem, he said Washington had also supported the efforts of the EU ''and especially the courageous decision that they made in Helsinki in 1999, to try to bring these issues together.''

''My message today is a simple one and will be exactly the same here and on the T/C side, which is to say that there is an opportunity waiting for all of you and we hope very much that you will take it and we want to do everything that we possibly can to support you in that endeavour,'' he added.

Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory, is one of the ten countries expected to join the EU in 2004. The final decision on enlargement will be taken by EU leaders in Copenhagen next week.

CNA/MK/GP/2002

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