CYPRUS – British envoy cautiously optimistic on talks Britain’s envoy for Cyprus, Lord David Hannay yesterday sounded a note of cautious optimism ahead of upcoming talks over the divided island. This problem has been around long enough now to require a very serious effort. I’m convinced now that both sides are approaching it with deep seriousness, Hannay told reporters, wrapping up three days of contact talks on the island. Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash surprised diplomats on December 4 by announcing new talks starting January 16. I think the atmosphere has been transformed by the meeting… but I caution a little bit against excessive euphoria. I think the road ahead will be quite long and quite difficult, Hannay said. I think the Cyprus problem has been dogged over the years by a feeling that there was an infinite amount of time available to conduct discussions and it didn’t matter if they didn’t proceed in a very purposeful direction, Hannay said. I don’t get that feeling from anyone now. (Reuters) Negligence Ambulance crew found to be both late and hasty An elderly man died this summer due to the negligence of stretcher-bearers working at the National First Aid Center (EKAB), a Piraeus court ruled yesterday. The hospital workers received an urgent call to help 73-year-old Haralambos Plionis, who had lost consciousness at his home in Amfiali, but arrived two hours later. On arrival, the workers pronounced Plionis dead. But when the man’s son massaged his heart, the 73-year-old regained his senses. However, Plionis then died on the way to hospital. IKA Doctors on strike tomorrow Social Security Fund (IKA) clinics in Athens and Piraeus will remain closed tomorrow while doctors meet to decide on future strike action. IKA doctors are demanding that the government increases their salary and grants permanent posts to 5,500 of their colleagues on short-term contracts. Meanwhile, IKA yesterday announced Friday,.December 28 will be its last working day this year and Monday December 31 will be a holiday. Rio-Antirio. The Rio-Antirio ferry line is open today after officers of the small ferries which service the route between the Peloponnese and Western Greece called off a series of four-hour work stoppages planned for yesterday, today and tomorrow. The officers had been demanding more berths for their vessels. Nov17. Former New Democracy MP, Lefteris Papadimitriou, yesterday asked an Athens prosecutor to reopen the case of his alleged attempted murder in December 1992 by the November 17 terrorist organization. Nine years to the day after an attack in which the former MP was shot five times in the legs, Papadimitriou says there is new evidence to support his claim that the terrorist group, who have claimed responsibility for the attack, can actually be proven guilty. Papadimitriou said he will base his case on recent research findings of his own as well as recent statements about terrorism made by Nikos Gryllakis, a retired general and former close aide to ND’s former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis. It was not clear what Papadimitriou meant. Syria visit. Foreign Minister George Papandreou has postponed his visit to Syria, planned for yesterday and today, due to scheduling reasons, the Greek Embassy in Damascus said yesterday. Papandreou had been invited by his Syrian counterpart Faruq al-Shara to discuss bilateral relations and the situation in the Middle East, the Foreign Ministry said. A new date for the meeting should be agreed at the beginning of 2002, Embassy officials said. US Embassy. The US Embassy in Athens, including the consular section, the US Consulate General in Thessaloniki and all US government offices in Greece will be closed on Monday, December 24. School libraries. School libraries fall far short of fulfilling the needs of both teachers and pupils, members of the Publishers’ Association said at a press conference yesterday. The 500 school libraries funded by the EU’s Second Community Support Framework are a rich resource but their potential is not being exploited, according to the association which blamed lack of staff and an excessively bureaucratic system for the stagnation of the libraries.