NEWS

US envoy launches Cyprus mission

A senior US diplomat yesterday kicked off a series of meetings in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus in what is seen as an exploratory mission that could prepare the ground for a new round of Cyprus peace talks. After arriving in Ankara, Laura Kennedy, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, called on Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos to communicate to the United Nations his objections to the reunification plan drafted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – which the Greek Cypriots rejected in an April 2004 referendum, even as the Turkish Cypriots simultaneously endorsed it. «[Annan] needs to know that there is a political will that would justify a resumption of… talks,» The Associated Press quoted Kennedy as saying. «Certainly, we encourage President Papadopoulos to indeed communicate that to the secretary-general.» «The ball is in the court of the government of Cyprus,» she added. «The unresolved status is in no one’s interest.» Government sources in Cyprus said yesterday Papadopoulos proposes to orally brief Kennedy, during their scheduled meeting tomorrow, on the changes he would like to the Annan plan, but will stay resolute in his refusal to put those proposals in writing. In Nicosia, Kennedy will also meet with newly elected Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Kennedy is due today in Athens, where she will see senior Foreign Ministry officials.