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2002-12-04 10:04:30

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis United Nations, Dec 4 (CNA) -- Once both sides in Cyprus hand over to the UN their comments on the points of the UN Secretary General's solution blueprint they would like to see changed, the UN will analyse the changes they would like to make and most likely then communicate with the two sides sequentially, back and forth, with a view to reduce the differences and get agreement on a single text, Kofi Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard said here yesterday.

Eckhard said that the UN has not yet received responses from either side and that ''we do expect both sides to respond in the next day of two. And then the hard work will begin on negotiating a final text. The clock is ticking. We're hopeful that we will get responses from both sides in the very near fut

ure,'' he added.|

Invited to say whether the UN Secretary General intends to visit Cyprus in the next days, the Secretary General's spokesman said that ''at the moment he does not'', adding that ''Alvaro de Soto, his special envoy is in Cyprus prepared to do the legwork once the reactions are in.''

Asked whether the Secretary-General will be involved in the final stage of negotiations before the EU Summit on 12 December, Eckhard said he did not rule that out.

''Alvaro de Soto is in place ready to lead the negotiations, and we'll see what role, if any, might be required after that for the Secretary-General,'' he said.

Answering other questions, Eckhard noted that asking Kofi Annan to speculate about what will happen after the 12th of December if there is no agreement, doesn't make much sense ''when he is very hopeful that we will have one.''

''We've been trying for 28 years. If it doesn't happen on 12 December, we'll keep plugging away at it. But what we're saying is that now is a great opportunity, probably the best opportunity in 28 years. Let's seize it. We're hoping that the two leaders will seize this opportunity to close their differences and agree on a single State to enter the European Union,'' he added.

Asked if Annan will meet today in New York with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who is recovering after a heart surgery he underwent there in October, Eckhard said that this would surprise him.

On November 25, Annan sent letters to President Clerides and Denktash requesting that they notify him about which points of his solution plan, handed to them on November 11, they would like to see changed. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

CNA/AZ/MK/GP/2002

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