NEWS

Cypriot get-together

Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides came out of a 100-minute-long meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan completely satisfied yesterday. The two discussed ways in which Clerides could speed up negotiations with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash aimed at ending their island’s division, in light of the Security Council’s June 30 target date for ending the stalemate. «We had a very good meeting and we discussed how we can accelerate the process,» Clerides told reporters. He would not elaborate. «It is not wise for each side to say what the main obstacle is at this stage. Let us wait and see how the meetings of the secretary-general will develop,» Clerides said. Denktash, too, said after his meeting with Annan that he was «optimistic» that a solution could be achieved by the end of June. «We discussed the Cyprus problem in depth,» Denktash said, adding that Annan had not put forward any new proposals at the meeting. Annan’s efforts on the island were given a boost by a letter sent to him by US President George Bush expressing the president’s full-hearted, personal support for his efforts to end the Cyprus problem. This forced Denktash to stop trying to play down the significance of the secretary-general’s visit. Denktash yesterday organized a demonstration by the extreme right-wing Grey Wolves organization outside his office during his meeting with Annan, in which protesters expressed support for Denktash’s hardline stance on Cyprus. A demonstration by 41 other Turkish-Cypriot organizations calling for understanding and reconciliation between the two sides on Cyprus was not allowed to get near Denktash’s office. Earlier, Denktash had tried to get Greek-Cypriot journalists aiming to cover his meeting with Annan to wear press tags with the flag of the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state. When the journalists refused, the UN intervened and solved the problem in favor of the journalists. Last night Annan hosted a working dinner for Clerides and Denktash at the house of UN Chief of Mission Zbigniew Wlosowicz. The UN’s Cyprus envoy, Alvaro de Soto, who has been mediating in the talks since January, was the only other person present. Annan will meet with UN officials on the island and will discuss their peace mission. He will hold a news conference on the results of his visit before leaving. (Kathimerini, AP, AFP)