Greece, UK talk Turkey

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to discuss Turkey’s bid to join the European Union with his British counterpart Tony Blair in London this afternoon in an attempt to garner Britain’s support ahead of a December 6 European Union deadline for Ankara to honor its commitments to Cyprus. The meeting comes a day after Brussels said that it would give Ankara until the first week of December to respect its commitments as an EU candidate state and open its air and sea ports to Cyprus, which is already an EU member state. Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos, who is accompanying Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on their trip, described the EU’s decision as «positive.» Greek diplomats in London said that Karamanlis and Bakoyannis planned to gauge the direction of British policy on Turkey’s EU bid, particularly as regards proposals to «freeze» Turkey’s accession talks should Ankara remain intransigent on key demands. Bakoyannis is also due to discuss Turkey and Cyprus in talks with her British counterpart Margaret Beckett and with Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon. In a related development yesterday, outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Greek and Turkish Cypriots to strive toward reunifying their island. «We want to see actions from both sides that close the gap between words and deeds,» Annan said after talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in Geneva. Meanwhile in Athens, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros sought to stress Greece’s good will opposite Ankara after Turkish air force chief Faruk Comert was cited as saying: «If (Greece) downs one of our jets, we will down two of theirs,» in reference to a midair crash between a Greek and Turkish F-16 last May that resulted in the Greek pilot’s death. «The government puts emphasis on good relations with all neighboring countries,» Antonaros said.

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