Prodi in Cyprus for enlargement talks

As European Commission President Romano Prodi arrives in Nicosia to discuss Cyprus’s EU accession, the US State Department’s special coordinator for Cyprus will be holding talks with top Cypriot officials to discuss the revival of talks on the island’s reunification. Thomas Weston arrived in Nicosia yesterday evening, and will meet President Glafcos Clerides today before pursuing negotiations with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who withdrew from the last round of UN-supervised talks last year insisting that the Turkish-occupied north should be recognized as a legal state entity. In Athens yesterday, Weston discussed the matter with senior Foreign Ministry officials, whom he briefed on the results of similar meetings he conducted with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and other government officials on Tuesday. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou was on a visit to Hungary. Today, Prodi is due to arrive in Nicosia – accompanied by EU commissioner for enlargement Guenther Verheugen – to discuss Cyprus’s accession to the 15-member union. Sources in Brussels said Prodi is expected to confirm the decision of the Helsinki Summit to disassociate Cyprus’s accession from a political solution to the island’s division. During his two-day visit, Prodi is expected to stress that, although Brussels would prefer a political solution, its absence will not prevent the republic’s accession. Talks will include tax reforms in Cyprus and the status of offshore companies based on the island.

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