NEWS

UN downbeat on quick deal

As Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash ended a second week of inconclusive peace talks yesterday, the United Nations envoy for Cyprus expressed pessimism at the prospect of Cypriots solving their own problems. If the two cannot strike a deal by March 22, Greece and Turkey will enter the fray. A new deadlock would lead to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan «filling in the blanks» in an agreement that will be subjected to referenda on both sides of the ceasefire line on April 21. «It is our strong desire that the Cypriot parties should come to an agreement on all the issues in the remaining two weeks,» UN envoy Alvaro de Soto told journalists in a flash visit to Ankara yesterday. «That may be difficult, but then there is a possibility of meetings that will include Turkey and Greece. We hope that if there is no agreement in the coming two weeks, then it will be possible in the second round.» Meanwhile, Denktash yesterday announced he would not leave the talks, as he had said on Thursday.