Annan to mull Ankara Cyprus plan

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said he will study Ankara’s new proposals for a Cyprus settlement but has not committed the UN to mediating in a new round of talks between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders, UN officials said yesterday. Meanwhile, Nicosia said Annan has expressed his intention to relaunch peace negotiations after May parliamentary elections in the island’s south. Annan sent a letter to Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat last month, saying he intended to appoint an envoy to Cyprus after the elections, Cypriot government spokesman George Lillikas told reporters. Annan, who met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday, reportedly told the Turkish leader that he would study a proposal by Ankara, according to which Turkey would open up its ports and airports to Greek-Cypriot ships and planes in exchange for the lifting of trade restrictions against the Turkish Cypriots. Nicosia has already objected to the proposal, noting that Ankara is already obliged, by an EU customs protocol, to open its ports and airports to Cypriot craft. Turkey’s proposal on Cyprus was backed by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who spoke with Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot officials in Nicosia on Wednesday. Opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who held talks with Straw in Athens yesterday, criticized the British politician’s meeting with Turkish-Cypriot leader Talat. «This challenging phase calls for great caution when it comes to visits, to avoid creating new tensions. Unfortunately (Straw’s) visit has not contributed to a climate of boosting cooperation and tolerance between Greek and Turkish Cypriots,» Papandreou told reporters after the talks. The PASOK leader also accused ruling New Democracy of «inactivity, timidity and a lack of initiative» in contributing toward a Cyprus solution.

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