Nicosia: Straw’s trip will harm ties

NICOSIA – Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said yesterday that he wanted to avoid a diplomatic war with Britain but warned that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s planned visit to the breakaway north would «poison» relations. «When the climate is poisoned by such actions, you understand that an additional effort is needed to restore relations to a good level,» Papadopoulos told reporters before leaving for Russia. Greek Cypriots are angry over Straw’s planned meeting with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at his offices in the Turkish-held north of Nicosia. The island’s Greek-Cypriot government argues such a meeting would infer some kind of recognition of the illegal regime. However, Straw has insisted on meeting Talat at his offices, despite the objections raised by Cyprus. Papadopoulos has already made clear he will snub the foreign secretary if he crosses the UN-monitored ceasefire line to hold talks with the Turkish-Cypriot leader on Wednesday. Nevertheless, he is reluctant to turn the issue into a full-scale diplomatic incident. «This disregard of the Cypriot peoples’ sensitivities and that of the government, and an effort by Britain, not for recognition but an upgrade of the (Turkish-Cypriot) regime, will not lead us into confrontation and the opening of a new front against the United Kingdom,» said Papadopoulos.

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