Nicosia accepts UN plan for talks

Greek-Cypriot political leaders yesterday accepted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposals as the basis for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, meeting the seven-day deadline Annan had set when he presented his plan last Monday. Turkish-Cypriot officials said they would not reply until their leader, Rauf Denktash, returned to Cyprus. It was not clear when this would be, as he is in the hospital in New York where he underwent two heart operations in October. President Glafcos Clerides met with Annan’s special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, in Nicosia and gave him the reply at the 7 p.m. deadline. Only two small parties of the seven, New Horizons and the Ecologists, voted against the proposal at a four-hour meeting of the island’s National Council yesterday. Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said, however, that Annan’s «timetable cannot be kept to and so cannot be considered binding.» Clerides told de Soto that the Greek Cypriots would ask for clarification on certain issues. De Soto, leaving Clerides’s office, said the timetables were an essential part of the plan. He expressed hope that a solution to the Cyprus problem could still be found before the EU’s Copenhagen summit on December 12. He expressed hope that the Turkish Cypriots would commit themselves to negotiations.

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