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Greeks, Turks hold Cypriot security talks

Greece and Turkey will begin discussing issues concerning Cyprus’s security and guarantees in talks at the Foreign Ministry in Athens tomorrow. The two countries are guarantor powers and need to reach agreement on security guarantees for the island after its reunification under UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan. The talks will be held under UN mediation, with a team of UN political and military officials present. The head of the Foreign Ministry’s political affairs section, Ambassador Ilias Klis, will lead the Greek delegation, which will include Ambassador Constantine Tritaris and Lt. Gen. Stylianos Panagopoulos, chief of the military staff. Ambassador Baki Ilkin will lead the Turkish delegation. Issues will include the number of troops that will be based on the island, their weapons and their location. In Nicosia, UN mediator Alvaro de Soto said he believed it was inevitable that Greece and Turkey would next week join talks aimed at reaching a deal on Cyprus’s reunification. «I believe it is inevitable that issues will still be pending by March 22 so we will have to go on,» he said after talks with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos. «Preparations are being made. I have been in consultations with Greece and Turkey about the question of their involvement so was are moving in that direction.» De Soto met separately with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, changing tactics from the direct negotiations of past weeks. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis met with the EU’s commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, in Brussels yesterday for talks on the Cyprus issue. Valinakis stressed the need for a solution on the basis of the acquis communautaire. Today he will visit Paris and Berlin for talks with his French counterpart, Noelle Lenoir, and his German one, Klaus Scharioth, the Foreign Ministry said. Aside from Cyprus, the meetings will focus on the intergovernmental conference on the future of Europe. Valinakis discussed this in Athens with British Ambassador David Madden. Britain’s European affairs minister, David MacShane, canceled his visit because of his daughter’s tragic death in a skydiving accident in Australia on Sunday.