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Cyprus: Annan and Papadopoulos meet on strategies

Cyprus: Annan and Papadopoulos meet on strategies toward reunification

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President Tassos Papadopoulos of Cyprus agreed in Paris today that demilitarization, de-mining and technical talks on a range of issues would greatly improve the atmosphere for talks on reuniting the island.

“They agreed that the resumption of the negotiating process, within the framework of the Secretary-General’s Good Offices, must be timely and based on careful preparation,” a UN spokesperson said today.

The spokesperson said that they also agreed to continue their dialogue in order to accelerate the search for a fair solution to the problem, and Mr. Annan noted that he had received assurances from the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mehmet Ali Talat, that he shared the same aspirations.

In January, in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Annan met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to review the latter’s proposal for ending the long stalemate.

The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has been operating since 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and one of its roles is to monitor ceasefire lines that extend some 180 kilometres across the island.

In December, the Security Council extended UNFICYP’s mandate until the middle of June, following Mr. Annan’s report on the country that noted the situation in Cyprus was calm but “progress toward a political solution remains negligible at best.”

Official contacts between the two parties have not resumed since the April 2004 referendum on a comprehensive settlement plan failed. About 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan, while 76 per cent of Greek Cypriots voted against it.

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