Cypriots ‘committed’ to talks

The Cypriot government, faced with the willingness of both the UN secretary-general and the US government for a quick negotiated solution to the division of the island, yesterday reiterated its commitment to a federated state, while condemning all pressure for a hasty solution as well as the establishment of any type of relations with the Turkish-occupied north of the island. However, a deep division among political forces on how to proceed became more pronounced than ever, as the leader of the opposition, Nikos Anastassiades, wrapped up a trip to Turkey where he had talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Speaking to members of the island’s Maronite community, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said that he is committed to a «working and viable» solution to the reunification of Cyprus. «All those of goodwill, both in Cyprus and abroad, recognize, now, the sincerity of our efforts,» Papadopoulos said. The Cypriot president had dismissed, on Friday, as «unfair» a request by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to spell out, in writing, his objections to a plan submitted by Annan last year but overwhelmingly rejected by Greek Cypriots in a referendum. However, Dimitris Christofias, head of Communist party AKEL, did not exclude yesterday a written reply to Annan. Christofias, a key Papadopoulos ally, and his party had been more favorable toward the plan but has loyally backed Papadopoulos. Anastassiades, head of the Democratic Rally party, concluded yesterday his visit to Turkey, saying that it was «completely successful» and hoping for movement toward talks in the next few months. Erdogan said talks could resume as early as April. Foreign Minister George Iacovou yesterday condemned a US initiative to send a business delegation to occupied Cyprus on February 17.