Cyprus pulls plug on UK talks

NICOSIA (AP) – Cyprus has canceled upcoming talks with Britain in protest over a pact with Turkey it said promotes the war-divided island’s permanent partition, the government said yesterday. Government spokesman Vassilis Palmas said talks scheduled for Saturday in London between Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis and a British Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells, had been called off to underscore Nicosia’s displeasure over last week’s deal. «Ms Marcoullis’s trip to London will not take place,» Palmas told reporters. «Decisions have been made on different levels and more will be made. These decisions and these measures will be made public as they are implemented, unless the government judges that it must act differently.» The Marcoullis-Howells talks were part of talks between Nicosia and London that began in October 2005 aiming to build trust and promote cooperation between the two countries. Name issue The strategic partnership agreement, announced last week during a visit to London by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, included a reference to northern Turkish-occupied Cyprus as the «TRNC,» which stands for the «Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.» The breakaway state in the north of the divided island is recognized only by Ankara. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded following a failed coup by supporters of uniting the island with Greece. The island remains split between an internationally recognized republic in the Greek-Cypriot south and the Turkish-Cypriot north. Talks to resolve the division have been stalled since 2004, when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN-backed plan in a referendum. Turkish Cypriots approved the plan in a separate vote. The Cypriot government in the south also warned that the partnership agreement could hamper settlement prospects. Speaking on state radio yesterday, Kozakou-Marcoullis called the Turkish-British agreement «unacceptable.» London had said its policy toward northern Cyprus was unchanged and it did not seek to promote partition.