NEWS

Denktash stable after surgery

Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who had open heart surgery earlier this month, was resting comfortably yesterday after follow-up exploratory surgery in New York, a hospital spokesman said. Denktash, who suffered a heart attack in 1989, was resting comfortably and in stable condition following Sunday’s two-and-a-half-hour surgery, said Bryan Dotson, a spokesman for New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. No further information was released. Denktash, 78, underwent aortic valve replacement on October 7. The operation was needed to correct aortic stenosis, a condition in which blood cannot be pumped into the aorta because the valve is faulty, said Dr Mehmet Oz, who performed the surgery. Doctors inserted a pig’s valve into Denktash’s heart. The Turkish-Cypriot leader’s health problems look likely to hold back United Nations-sponsored peace talks with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides. Clerides, Denktash and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan were to have met in New York next month for the latest of a series of face-to-face negotiations that for the most part have proved fruitless. The question now is whether any talks can be held before mid-December, when European Union leaders meeting in Copenhagen are expected to approve Cyprus’s EU accession. Both UN and EU officials had been hoping earlier this year that talks would have progressed enough by then to have allowed some form of a deal. But even before Sunday’s operation, Denktash had been told to abstain from work until early December. Next Monday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis will launch a series of meetings with Greece’s EU partners regarding Cyprus. (Combined reports)