NEWS

Denktash’s heart a crucial factor

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Veteran Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, 78, said yesterday he may have to undergo heart surgery in the coming months. Denktash and Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides – who is 82 – are due tomorrow to resume direct talks on reuniting the island. «My doctors’ advice is that within the next six to 12 months I should give serious thought to heart surgery,» Denktash told Reuters, saying the diagnosis coincided with his decision to ask Clerides to begin face-to-face talks in January. Denktash said doctors would decide in June whether he should undergo immediate surgery, and if so, talks would have to break off while he recovered. [The UN Security Council on Tuesday set a June deadline for agreement.] He said doctors had found a blockage of his aorta and wanted to correct a heart valve problem. He said he felt fine. Denktash, who has a history of heart trouble, said doctors had told him he needed to lose up to 15 kilos. He suffered a heart attack in 1996 and had surgery a year later. The Turkish-Cypriot TAK news agency quoted Denktash as saying: «This (surgery) is one of the factors in resolving the Cyprus issue at some point.» [Meanwhile, the US special envoy for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, met in Athens yesterday with Foreign Minister George Papandreou. He praised the efforts of Clerides and Denktash. «The results of the report sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Security Council are quite favorable and give some hope for the future,» Weston said, according to Agence France-Presse. «I’d like to make one particular point, concerning the statement of the Security Council yesterday and reemphasize the urgency of going for an agreement,» he said.]