NEWS

Cyprus leader in Athens to discuss tactics

Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos is due in Athens today for talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and President Karolos Papoulias regarding the latest developments in efforts to relaunch peace talks on Cyprus. Shortly before leaving Nicosia for Athens yesterday, Papadopoulos said that talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots «at a technical level» – envisaged as the first step on the road to top-level peace talks – were imminent. He added that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, with whom he held talks in Paris last week, was prepared to send a deputy to Nicosia for further discussions if the exploratory talks yielded encouraging results. Annan and Papadopoulos agreed that progress should be made on a number of issues, including the disengagement of troops from the divided island and returning a section of the Turkish-occupied port of Famagusta to the Greek Cypriots. Yesterday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued its first official response to the outcome of the meeting, stressing that Turkey has its own «action plan» for a Cyprus settlement and that «the UN must constitute the basis for any solution to the problem.» Also yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in support of the new initiative. «The intention expressed by (Annan and Papadopoulos) to continue their efforts, with the clear aim of accelerating the discovery of a comprehensive and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, deserves every support,» it said. Meanwhile in Athens, Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said that the Cyprus problem – along with Greek-Turkish relations and Ankara’s EU bid – would top the agenda of talks Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is due to have with her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul in Salzburg on Friday. The two ministers are to meet on the sidelines of a meeting of European foreign ministers. Bakoyannis is also due to discuss Turkey’s EU prospects with European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who is expected to visit Athens tomorrow.