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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 99-11-15
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>
Monday, 15 November 1999
"Now that the parties have agreed, I am looking forward to welcoming them for what I expect will be substantive talks," Mr Annan said in a statement issued in New York yesterday after verbally sounding out both sides.
"The Secretary-General assured me that the talks will be carried out on the basic aspects of the Cyprus problem and that they will be substantive", he said.
He said he had received similar assurances from US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Special Presidential Emissary, Alfred Moses, who read him a statement President Clinton is expected to make in which he gives assurances that the talks would be without preconditions, will focus on the basic aspects and that the US will cooperate closely with the UN to ensure that they will be productive.
President Clerides added that a refusal on our part to respond positively to the UN Secretary-General's invitation, particularly in view of Mr Denktash's acceptance of the invitation and following the assurances that he had received, would be a terrible mistake and would affect not only the course of the Cyprus problem, but also the island's accession to the European Union.
"I believe that for the first time in the history of the Cyprus problem we have assurances about the active involvement of the United States and what is more of the President himself", he added.
"I am confident that the other Permanent Members of the Security Council will do the same. Already, the French Foreign Ministry has made a relevant announcement and the British Prime Minister has assured me that Britain is interested in helping to achieve a solution. I have no reason to doubt that the two other Permanent Members of the Security Council, i.e. Russia and China, will also show similar interest".
In Athens, Greek Government Spokesman Dimitris Reppas said: "We express satisfaction. The talks must be substantive and sustained in order to yield results."
Meanwhile, however, according to news agency reports, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who had initially agreed to start proximity talks on the Cyprus problem, later changed his mind claiming the format of the talks had been changed. It was later reported that Mr Denktash eventually did agree to attend the talks.
In a statement issued late last night in New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan clarified that proximity talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides will take place in New York beginning of December.
Athens News Agency reported that the United States said yesterday it expected Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to participate in the December 3 talks with President Clerides despite his reported reservations.
"We've seen the reports," said White House National Security Council spokesman David Leavy. "Mr. Denktash made a commitment to the Secretary- General of the United Nations to participate in proximity talks beginning 3 December. We fully expect him to live up to that commitment."
"These Cyprus talks can bring us one step closer to a lasting peace", he said. "A negotiated settlement is the best way to meet the fundamental interests of the parties including real security for all Cypriots and an end to the island's division".
Mr Clinton added that the Cyprus problem has been with us for far too long and will not be resolved overnight.
"But today we have new hope. I ask the parties to approach this opportunity with good faith - and the determination to build for all the people of Cyprus a future that is brighter than the past".
In his speech at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that opened on 12 November in Durban President Clerides called on Commonwealth countries to reconfirm their previous decisions and their principles concerning the settlement of the Cyprus problem
On the sidelines of the four-day meeting, President had a meeting with the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who reconfirmed his support for the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus.
Mr Blair also expressed his support for UN Security Council resolution 1250 and a statement of G8 that invite the UN Secretary-General to call unconditional talks on Cyprus this autumn, pledging to work towards this direction.
President Clerides also met with the Prime Minister of Malta, Edward Fenech Adami, to whom he underlined the position that Turkey's possible upgrading to candidate-status for European Union membership at the forthcoming Helsinki Summit is inconceivable without any exchanges for Cyprus in return.
Briefing the press on US President Bill Clinton's 10-day trip to Europe, Mr Berger said on 12 November that progress towards such a settlement would be among the subjects Mr Clinton will raise in Turkey as well as further reduction of tensions with Greece.
In Athens, Mr Berger added, the President will urge the Greeks to look forwards, not backwards, and will address key issues such as relations with Turkey and Cyprus.
Asked what he expected on Cyprus, Mr Berger said it is obviously a very important issue for the US and that their objective is to see talks between the parties under UN auspices, which is what they have been working towards now for some time.
"We hope to make progress toward an ultimate objective of substantive talks between the parties under the auspices of the UN. I don't know whether that will happen on this trip or not", he said.
Moreover, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Mr Marc Grossman, on his part told the briefing that the focus of what the United States is trying to achieve with Greece and Turkey is security.
He emphasised the importance of the US' relationship with Turkey particularly as regards relations with Greece and Cyprus.
"With both these countries we want to highlight the bilateral relationship, because the bilateral relationship with these countries is very much a part of the vision of trying to see this Europe whole, free, and at peace", he said.
In his bimonthly report to Congress on progress towards a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus question, the US President said he had emphasised this during a meeting he had with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on 28 September.
"The Prime Minister and I agreed that there cannot be a solution to the Cyprus problem that would return the situation to what it was before 1974: all Cypriots must live in security", he said.
From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at http://www.pio.gov.cy/