Clerides, Denktash get down to business

President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash spent two hours yesterday discussing power sharing in a reunited Cyprus, in the first of a series of thrice-weekly, open-ended meetings aimed at ending their island’s division. The two men had agreed last week to start their negotiations on this core issue in an apparent bid to sense each other’s intentions and to determine the potential for the negotiations’ success. The Greek Cypriots believe that this discussion will show the extent of the credibility of Denktash and Turkey. The talks began at 5 p.m. in the UN buffer zone at Nicosia’s international airport, which has been abandoned since the Turkish invasion of 1974. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, is attending the talks, which are being held in a press blackout. Clerides was accompanied by Attorney General Alecos Markides, Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros and Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou. Denktash was accompanied by his secretary, Ergun Olgana, and Mumtaz Soysal, a former foreign minister of Turkey and constitutional law expert. Denktash said that he would call on officials from the breakaway state’s «foreign ministry,» depending on the issues under discussion. Meanwhile, Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot businessmen who met in Athens last week have decided to set up an economic forum for Cyprus. This will submit opinions, reports and proposals for the improvement of social and economic relations, before and after the solution of the Cyprus problem. Two of its aims are to help even out the imbalance in per capita income and competitiveness between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. On another issue, Cypriot politicians denied a report in the Turkish-Cypriot paper Kibrisli that the two sides had agreed on a solution with the country being renamed «the United States of Cyprus.»

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