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Annan urges leaders to listen to people in Cyprus
2003-01-14 15:46:38

By Apostolis Zoupaniotis-- United Nations, Jan 14 (CNA) ? UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged here Tuesday the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to listen to the voices of the ordinary people about their desire for peace, adding the UN are in a striking distance of reuniting Cyprus.

Commenting on a mass rally held in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus today, the UN chief said he was pleased to see that people were out in the streets demanding peace and unification, stressing it is very difficult not to listen to them.

Invited during a press conference to comment on the demonstration in the occupied areas against the policy of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and to say whether it was possible to have a settlement in Cyprus with Denktash as the leader of the T/C community, Annan replied "first of all I am pleased that the people are out in the streets promoting peace and demanding peace and demanding the unification".

He said this was "something that we have worked very hard on and many people in the region had hoped for".

Noting the UN "are going to press ahead with the negotiations, the deadline of the 28th of February is a firm one" Annan said that "obviously it is up to the people to decide who their leader is and up to their leader to decide whether he persists or resigns".|

However, "whether a leader resigns or stays on, I think the people are speaking and it is very difficult not to listen to the people when they come out in those numbers. So, I would think that what I would urge the leaders is listen to the voices of the ordinary people about their desire for peace. The future political plans of the leader I will leave to him to decide", Annan added.

The UN Secretary-General further said that the UN is in striking distance of reuniting Cyprus.

The UN-led direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash resume on Wednesday in an effort to reach an agreement based on Annan's revised plan for a comprehensive settlement.

An unprecedented 40 thousand people rallied in the occupied part of Nicosia today, calling for Denktash's resignation, a solution to the Cyprus problem and accession to the European Union.

Cyprus is among the ten countries, which will accede the EU in May 2004.

The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.


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