Straw, Gul discuss EU, Cyprus in UK

LONDON (AP) – British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said yesterday that good progress had been made on resolving tensions between Greeks and Turks over Cyprus, but added that complex legal and historical issues had to be overcome. «Cyprus’s people on both sides have got a very positive and constructive approach for living together for the future,» Straw told reporters after a breakfast meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul. Gul acknowledged that issues remained to be solved. «From the very beginning, we have worked for a solution. The solution has to be satisfactory to all sides,» he said. The island split between Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot sections since Turkey invaded in 1974 after an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece. The breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state is recognized only by Turkey, which keeps 40,000 troops there. In April, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was primarily responsible for the failure of UN-sponsored talks on reunification, which broke down in March. Straw, who has just returned from visits to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, said he briefed Gul on the journey. They also discussed Turkey’s aspiration of joining the European Union, which has been backed by Britain. «We also talked… about the progress that Turkey is making toward the start of its (EU) accession negotiation,» Straw said. Turkey hopes to open negotiations on EU membership in 2005. The EU has pressed Turkey to improve its human rights record, and is also looking to Turkey to be more helpful in reuniting Cyprus. Greece is concerned that Turkey’s military still holds too much political influence. «Reforms are not something imposed from outside. They are seen as every Turkish citizen’s rights. It is a sign of Turkey’s self-confidence,» Straw said.

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