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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 13:41 GMT
Finns strive for EU-Turkey deal
Flags of EU and Turkey outside an Istanbul mosque
Turkey's bid has polarised opinion in Europe
Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen will visit Turkey on Friday in a fresh effort to rescue Ankara's troubled EU accession bid.

The announcement came a day after Finland - currently the EU president - said Turkey's negotiations were deadlocked over the Cyprus problem.

Turkey wants the EU to ease its embargo on Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

The EU insists that Turkey must open its ports to traffic from Cyprus, whose government Turkey refuses to recognise.

Mr Vanhanen's visit "is to assess the state of Turkey's accession talks with the European Union," his spokeswoman said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would meet his Finnish counterpart on Friday, the AFP news agency reported.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has said Turkey's accession talks are set to slow down.

"Negotiations will not be stopped or frozen, they will continue more slowly," he said on Monday.

But Cyprus - an EU member since 2004 - will not agree to direct trade with the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognised only by Turkey.

EU foreign ministers are expected to make a decision on the accession negotiations on 11 December.

Progress has been slow since the negotiations began in October 2005.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded to counter a Greek Cypriot coup backed by the military junta ruling Greece at the time.

Cyprus is proving a stumbling block for Turkey's EU hopes

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