NEWS

Denktash may snub Round II

United Nations officials will hold new separate meetings today with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, amid general pessimism at the prospect of a peace deal emerging in the next five days. In that case, Greece and Turkey will join in a new round of talks in Switzerland. If these also prove fruitless, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will draft a deal that will be put to referenda on both sides of the ceasefire line on April 20. The UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, Sir Kieran Prendergast, arrived in Cyprus yesterday to attend the separate meetings organized by UN envoy Alvaro de Soto. «I am not bringing new ideas,» he told journalists, while, asked whether he thought that the talks will proceed to the second stage in Switzerland, he said, «I think so.» It is unclear, however, whether the meetings – to be held at the resort of Burgenstock, on Lake Lucerne, according to sources in Switzerland yesterday – will be attended by Denktash. Late on Monday, speaking to a delegation of hardline nationalists who called on him to resign in order to lead opposition to Annan’s peace blueprint, Denktash said such a move could be on the cards. «You know I will do that if necessary,» he told the delegation. «We will all see whether this becomes necessary or not.» Denktash is due in Ankara for consultations on Sunday. Following talks in Paris yesterday with France’s European Affairs Minister, Noelle Lenoir, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis told journalists that «there is hope» for the next stage of talks. «Naturally, we are also optimistic regarding the referendum,» he said, adding that this would be made easier by «a peace plan that is much more European than the current one.»