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Saturday, April 4, 1998 Published at 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK

World: Europe

US pushes to break Cyprus deadlock
image: [ Richard Holbrooke with the Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides ]
Richard Holbrooke with the Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides

The American special envoy to Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, has been having talks on the divided island with the two community leaders in an urgent effort to break the deadlock and allow stalled re-unification talks to re-start. The Turkish-Cypriots broke off talks during the European Union decision to allow the republic's Greek-Cypriot government to begin accession talks. Now there are fears the island could become permanently partitioned. Chris Drake reports from Nicosia.

Richard Holbrooke has wasted no time on his emergency mission. Within an hour of his arrival he held late night talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader, Ralph Denktash, and returned soon after dawn for a working breakfast with him.

Then it was a meeting followed by a working lunch with President Glafcos Clerides.

There is no word yet on what if anything he has managed to achieve, and any plans or ideas he arrived with have not been made public.

The hurriedly arranged visit does underline the seriousness with which both the Americans and other countries view the current situation.

European Union envoy David Hannay on why a solution is so urgently needed (2'21)

Mr Holbrooke is now considered the leading Western trouble-shooter because Mr Denktash refuses to deal with any European Union diplomats.

Mainland Turkey is backing the Turkish-Cypriots' demand for recognition as a separate state, and both have been making moves for closer co-operation.

The Greek-Cypriots are doing the same with Greece, but the result is that Cyprus is becoming more and more divided.

That renders useless nearly twenty-four years of attempts at re-unification and people here are now openly talking about the possibility of permanent partition. Leading separate lives since 1974 has meant relative peace, but any suggestion of fixed frontiers could dramatically change that, especially given the continuing military build-up here.

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