Denktash rejects UN call for talks

NICOSIA (Combined reports) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday dashed hopes of a swift resumption of the Cyprus talks he abandoned in November, saying meetings with a UN envoy had not provided the assurances he needed. Denktash, who demands recognition for his breakaway state in northern Cyprus, declined an invitation by UN envoy Alvaro de Soto to both Cypriot leaders for separate meetings in New York on September 12 as a first step to resuming talks. Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides accepted the invitation and his spokesman said that he would going to New York next week. Turkey said Denktash’s reply should not be seen as a rejection, but that he needed assurances he would be treated as an equal partner. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Denktash, in a radical departure from his public position, had even proposed secret face-to-face talks with Clerides to break the deadlock. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s deputy spokesman, Manoel De Almeida e Silva, said Denktash had not yet officially made his position known to the UN. We remain hopeful that His Excellency Rauf Denktash will find it possible to come to New York on the date that he and Mr. Clerides have been invited, he said. Earlier, after a week of shuttling between Clerides and Denktash in Nicosia, de Soto had issued an invitation from Annan for the two to resume the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem under the secretary-general’s auspices. It is our hope that a new and reinvigorated phase of (Annan’s) good offices will begin with separate meetings of the secretary-general with each of the two leaders on 12th September in New York, de Soto said. Within minutes, Denktash told a news conference in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus: What table shall we sit at? No new suggestions have come from the Greek Cypriots. European parliamentarians in Strasbourg warned Turkey its EU membership bid would end if it annexed northern Cyprus when the EU admits Cyprus. Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou met yesterday with a small group of Cypriot students who staged a sit-down protest at the entrance to Clerides’s mansion in Nicosia. They chanted slogans against Greek-Turkish rapprochement. (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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