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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 20:04 GMT
Cyprus leaders get down to business
Rauf Denktash, Alvaro de Soto and Glafcos Clerides
The two leaders are to meet three times a week
The first of what is set to be an intensive round of negotiations over the future of Cyprus has got underway, amid pressure to resolve the decades-old dispute over its status.

Map of Cyprus
Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met on Monday in the first of a programme of meetings, scheduled to take place three times a week under a news blackout.

The talks, under the guidance of UN envoy Alvaro de Soto, aim to reach a settlement on the divided island's future by June, allowing Cyprus to concentrate its efforts on the final push for accession to the European Union in 2004.

Turkey, which invaded Cyprus in 1974, has warned that it will annex the Turkish-controlled northern part of the island if Cyprus joins the EU before agreement on its status is reached.

Entrenched views

Mr De Soto said the discussions would be on power sharing within a proposed federal Cyprus which would have Greek and Turkish Cypriot regions.

Mr Denktash said that the talks would focus initially on areas where there was some agreement and progress to more thorny issues.

"The main thing is that all questions be discussed with goodwill," he said.

Nonetheless both parties have recently reasserted their long-held and irreconcilable positions, with Turkish Cypriots demanding a separate state, while Greek Cypriots want the island to be unified.

See also:

30 Dec 01 | Europe
Cyprus to hunt for missing people
04 Dec 01 | Europe
Cyprus veterans share chemistry
08 Jan 02 | Europe
Turkey foresees Cyprus settlement
18 Jan 02 | Europe
Cyprus: Flashback to 1974
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