Denktash recovers, talks await

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said on Saturday he had fully recovered from his heart surgery in New York and planned to return home on October 20. At a news conference at the New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, Denktash, 78, said the operation to replace a malfunctioning heart valve had been successful. «Everything is ticking in the right way,» Denktash, wearing a dressing gown and slippers, said. His recovery is not expected to slow down talks to resolve the division of Cyprus ahead of EU membership. Denktash planned to leave the hospital today and will stay in New York recuperating before flying back to Ankara on October 20, aide Ergun Olgun told Reuters. He will be ready to return to his political duties in early November, he said. High on the agenda is a fresh round of talks with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, about which Denktash refused to answer any questions on Saturday. The two men are under pressure to reach a deal as EU leaders build up to a December summit where they plan to wrap talks on nations’ accession into the region. Olgun said Clerides and the Greek Cypriots decided to apply for EU membership unilaterally. «We say let’s have resolution first and let the whole island, in the context of the new agreement, proceed to EU membership,» he said. If the sides do not reach an agreement before December, «that’s the end of the talks and each side will go its own way,» Olgun said. [UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to present Clerides and Denktash with a package of proposals for a solution to the Cyprus issue after the Turkish elections of November 3 and before the EU summit in December that is to accept Cyprus and another nine candidates. In accordance with the results of the recent meetings between Annan, Clerides and Denktash, two Cypriot government and Turkish-Cypriot committees will meet today in Nicosia to discuss issues related to the day after a possible solution.]