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Iraq, Cyprus Focus Of Annan's European Talks

Iraq, Cyprus Continue To Be Focus Of Annan's Talks With European Leaders In Belgium

The situation in Iraq and efforts to revive talks to settle the Cyprus problem continued to be the focus of discussions today between United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and senior European officials in Belgium.

Mr. Annan met early Thursday with the President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox, for a discussion that touched primarily on Iraq and Cyprus. The Secretary-General also held an exchange with members of the Parliament's Committee for Foreign Affairs, taking questions from them on relations between the United Nations and the European Union (EU), Iraq, Afghanistan, Cyprus, UN reform and the fight against AIDS, according to a UN spokesperson in New York.

Just before he received the Sakharov Prize, the Secretary-General met with relatives of UN staff members killed in the 19 August bomb blast at the UN offices in Baghdad, as well as one person, Gilburt Loescher, who had been in the office of Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello at the time of the explosion.

At a <"">press conference that followed the award ceremony, the Secretary-General mentioned the good discussions he had last week with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Cyprus, saying that what is important is that Turkey has clearly indicated its willingness to see negotiations resume.

"They will support and actively play a role in the negotiations. The effort will be sustained until we come to a conclusion, and they also are aware that it has to be done before 1st May," the Secretary-General said, referring to the date when 10 new members will join the EU, including Cyprus.

On the Road Map peace plan for the Middle East, the Secretary-General said, "It is in distress, but it is not dead." He appealed once more to the leaders to get back to the table, and to make reciprocal and parallel concessions and take confidence-building measures to move the process ahead.

After a lunch with the European Parliament party group leaders, the Secretary-General began an official visit to Belgium, beginning with an audience with His Majesty King Albert II.

Mr. Annan then met with Foreign Minister Louis Michel for talks that focused largely on central Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi. Their talks also touched on the conflict areas of Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iraq and Cyprus.

Also today, the Belgian Foreign Minister responded to Mr. Annan's appeal for financial assistance to his High-level Panel on Change by announcing a €250,000 (euro) contribution.

The Secretary-General's programme for this evening includes a meeting with the President of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos.

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