Straw in bid to be Cyprus mediator

A frosty reception in Cyprus did not deter British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw from urging Nicosia to consider Turkey’s proposals for reunification talks and insisting that London could still play a key role in deciding the island’s future. «I come here with friendship for both communities, not just one,» Straw said after meeting with Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou. President Tassos Papadopoulos had refused to hold talks with Straw after the British official insisted on also meeting with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. «The only route to reunification is negotiation and compromise,» Straw said, adding that the plan unveiled by Ankara on Tuesday for new talks «needs to be taken seriously.» Some 100 protesters met Straw outside Cyprus’s Foreign Ministry. The Cypriot government also reacted coldly to the visiting diplomat. «Whoever wants to act as a mediator in the Cyprus issue should not play hide-and-seek with his counterparts but should keep them informed,» said Giorgos Lilikas, the Cypriot government spokesman. Straw met with Talat after his talks with Iacovou. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul expressed hope that the European Union would help push for a settlement in Cyprus after accusing the Greek Cypriots of «not doing anything.» Straw is due to meet Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Athens today.

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