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Saturday, May 2, 1998 Published at 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK

World: Europe

New peace mission to Cyprus
image: [ The Turkish Cyriot leader Rauf Denktash holds forth on the issue of sovereignty during talks with Richard Holbrooke ]
The Turkish Cyriot leader Rauf Denktash holds forth on the issue of sovereignty during talks with Richard Holbrooke

The United States envoy to Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, has begun a new attempt to revive peace negotiations between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the divided island.

He is holding four days of separate meetings with Cyprus President, Glafcos Clerides, and Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash.

Mr Holbrooke, who brokered the 1995 Dayton accords that ended the Bosnian war, is aiming to achieve their co-operation for an intensive round of talks between the two sides in a venue outside Cyprus this summer.

At his first meeting with Mr Holbrooke, the Turkish Cypriot leader warned that Cyprus would remain divided if Greek Cypriots did not acknowledge the existence of his breakaway state.

"If you want Cyprus to be united, two states are ready to unite. If not, let Cyprus be divided," Mr Denktash said.

BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Barnaby Mason: "some signs of movement." (1'40)
He pulled out of United Nations-brokered negotiations last year and has refused to return until Turkish Cypriot sovereignty is recognised.

Western diplomats have recently detected some signs that this position might be flexible.

On two occasions this week, Mr Denktash has drawn a distinction between formal recognition and accepting or acknowledging what he calls the reality that Turkish and Greek Cypriots have equal status.

Missiles provide deadline

Mr Holbrooke's mission comes against a background of mounting tension over the expected arrival of Russian anti-aircraft missiles ordered by the Greek Cypriots.

Turkey, the only country to recognise the breakaway state Mr Denktash heads in northern Cyprus, has warned it could take military action to prevent the Greek Cypriot deployment of S-300 missiles, which is expected in August.

Ankara, which invaded northern Cyprus in 1974 after a brief Greek-led coup and keeps 30,000 troops there, sees the deployment as a threat not only to the Turkish Cypriots but to Turkey itself.

The Greek Cypriot government, which says the missiles are for its defence, has signalled that it would be willing to postpone their deployment - but only if serious talks with prospects of progress resumed.


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