UN Secretary-General Annan to visit Cyprus

NEW YORK (AP) – UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will travel to Cyprus this month in the hope of forming the outline of an agreement by June to reunify the island after a 27-year split, Annan’s chief envoy for Cyprus said. UN envoy Alvaro de Soto told The Associated Press on Thursday that talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and the Turkish-Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, represent «a window of opportunity» to achieve reunification. The two leaders resumed their face-to-face talks in January after a hiatus of 13 months. Greek Cypriots want the island reunified as a single state in line with UN resolutions, while the Turkish Cypriots seek a looser arrangement linking two independent states. The UN Security Council in late February urged the leaders to approach the deliberations with a sense of urgency, saying it should be feasible to reach agreement by June. US Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham said Washington welcomes and strongly supports Annan’s visit in May. «It’s a clear reflection of the importance the United Nations and the international community place on resolving the Cyprus issue and the need for more urgency in the negotiations to reach an agreement by the June target date,» Cunningham said. De Soto said that Clerides and Denktash want a reunified Cyprus to become a member of the European Union. The European Union has said it will accept Cyprus as a member by 2003 even if there has been no settlement by then. Turkey warned that it would annex the occupied north if this happened, a move that would jeopardize its own hopes of joining the European Union.