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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Christofias seeks rethink on talks ]

Christofias seeks rethink on talks

PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias said yesterday he would ask Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to reconsider aspects of the current process relating to the working groups and technical committees.

Christofias is due to meet Talat on May 23.

For the past week or so, the Greek Cypriot side has been making noises about putting off the start of fully-fledged negotiations, which it was hoped would begin by the end of June.

The government spoke of difficulties in the process of the groups and committees, and said it did not want to be tied to timetables because if the groups did not prepare the ground well, fully-fledged negotiations were bound to fail.

However, the Turkish Cypriot side wants talks to begin in June, saying the process is going well.

Christofias said this development did not mean the process had reached a dead end, but he said on ethical grounds he could not elaborate on the problems faced at the committees and groups.

“I firmly believe that a lot more work is needed, and I believe that with Mr Talat we should re-evaluate the basis on which the discussion are being held,” Christofias said on his departure for Peru.

Asked to clarify, Christofias said that according to the “Gambari letter”, the process should be reviewed by the two leaders three months after they start work. The groups began work on April 21, meaning they would only have been operational for two months by June 21.

It was the first time Christofias raised the issue of the Gambari process, also known as the July 8, 2006 agreement, since his meeting with Talat in March.

The March 21 agreement between Christofias and Talat makes no reference to the July 8 process, which the Turkish Cypriot side considers a non-starter. The leaders agreed to meet three months from March 21, to review the work of the working groups and technical committees, “and using their results, to start full-fledged negotiations”.

Initially, Christofias had been accused of giving in to the Turkish side’s demands and of abandoning the July 8 agreement that the previous government had pledged to adhere to, even though under President Tassos Papadopoulos, the process never even got as far as agreeing working groups and technical committees.

Christofias said his meeting with Talat next week was to see what could be done to overcome the obstacles, although he made it clear the climate during the process has been amicable.

Earlier yesterday, the President met the UN Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Cyprus Taye-Brook Zerihoun, who later met Talat in the north.

Christofias described his 45-minute meeting with Zerihoun, who arrived on the island on Tuesday, as cordial and said he felt the collaboration would be excellent.

He stressed that the role of the UN in the current process would be a supportive one.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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