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Friday, April 3, 1998 Published at 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK

World: Europe

US pushes for peace in Cyprus

Richard Holbrooke, the American special envoy, is in Cyprus for talks with leaders of the Greek and Turkish-Cypriot communities to try to break the deadlock in the settlement process.

His three-day visit - his second since being appointed last June - comes amid heightened tensions between Greece and Turkey over the divided island.

Ankara has threatened an armed response to plans by the Greek-Cypriot authorities to deploy Russian anti-aircraft missiles. In the past week, Russia has confirmed that it intends to go ahead with the sale.

Mr Holbrooke has focused much of his efforts in trying to prevent the missile sale from going ahead, and he may meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Chizhov, who has been discussing the deal in Nicosia.

Also high on the agenda will be the row over the Greek-Cypriots joining the European Union, which flared up when membership talks started on Tuesday. The breakaway Turkish republic of northern Cyprus has responded by threatening to integrate fully with the Turkish mainland.

The BBC correspondent in Washington says American officials believe that by admitting only one part of the island, the EU has exacerbated the situation and created a new hurdle to overcome.

Mr Holbrooke is reported to be carrying a package of measures aimed at encouraging trade between the Greek and Turkish sides of the island, and moving their leaders back to the talks table.

But he admitted after his last round of talks in November that there were some deeply incompatible views to overcome, and the BBC correspondent says that with those views now apparently entrenched even deeper, his task appears that much more difficult.

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