NEWS

Denktash to shun 4-party talks

As Greek, Turkish and United Nations officials in Athens discussed aspects of the UN peace blueprint on Cyprus yesterday in what was described as a «positive and constructive» mood, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash confirmed that he would abstain from a second round of talks on reunification. Denktash accused Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos of intransigence, adding that he expected no advances to be made during the new negotiations in Switzerland from March 23, in which Greek and Turkish negotiators are to join with Greek and Turkish Cypriots. «It will not be appropriate for me to go to Switzerland under these conditions,» Denktash told reporters. «Taking into account the talks we have had, I see that there is no agreement on basic issues and that there is no possibility for an agreement in the coming days.» But the 80-year-old leader insisted that he was not entirely quitting the peace process. «I have not left the talks,» he said. «Our friends will go, we will remain in contact and together we will assess the findings.» Mehmet Ali Talat, the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot administration, is expected to attend the talks in Denktash’s place. If no deal is struck in the forthcoming talks, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will draft an agreement that will be put to referendum on April 20 on both sides of the ceasefire line. Meanwhile in Athens, Greek and Turkish diplomats and military officials met for six-and-a-half hours with UN representatives to discuss security on Cyprus and the guarantees to be contained in the Annan plan, as well as the future UN role on the island. «The meeting took place in a positive and constructive mood,» a statement issued to the press said. «A first understanding was established on certain matters.»