New UN tack on Cyprus talks

After three weeks of fruitless face-to-face talks between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the United Nations has had enough. A spokesman for the UN – which has coordinated the latest effort for a peace deal on the island – in Nicosia said UN envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto informed both sides yesterday that the form of the negotiations should change. «Mr de Soto indicated that he intended to begin a series of intensive consultations with each side separately,» UN spokesman Brian Kelly said. «He informed the leaders that he believed this was the best way to facilitate forward movement on the core issues, given the difficulties of formulating trade-offs» during face-to-face meetings between Papadopoulos and Denktash. Kelly said that while the separate talks are going on, «there will not necessarily be daily meetings between the two leaders.» Papadopoulos – who is visiting Athens today ahead of consultations tomorrow with the new Greek government – bluntly dismissed the prospect of greater flexibility, involving a spirit of «give-and-take.» «We have not been left with much to give,» he told journalists before yet another fruitless meeting with Denktash. «We will not be getting anything, so why should we give?» Meanwhile, a European Commission official in Nicosia said yesterday that the European Union will host a preliminary international aid conference for Cyprus in Brussels on April 15 – two weeks ahead of Cyprus’s EU entry on May 1. More than 300 million euros in EU aid, of which 259 million is for the Turkish-occupied north, is already expected in case of a peace accord for the 2004-2006 period, according to EU sources.

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