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U.N. Changes Format of Cyprus Talks

March 14, 2004|Alex Efty | Associated Press Writer

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The United Nations changed the format of negotiations on Cyprus on Friday, acknowledging that participants had failed to make satisfactory progress on unifying the divided island.

U.N. envoy Alvaro de Soto will consult each side separately in a bid to obtain an agreement by the March 22 deadline, U.N. spokesman Brian Kelly announced.

Speaking to reporters after leaders of the two sides finished a session, Kelly said de Soto had told Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that he planned "a series of intensive consultations with each side separately."

De Soto believes that separate meetings are the best way to handle the current bottleneck in negotiations, Kelly said.

Denktash told reporters after Friday's session that "many and very wide differences remain."

Friday was the 14th meeting since Papadopoulos and Denktash revived the Cypriot negotiations Feb. 19 after a break of more than a year. The basis of the talks is a plan drawn up by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reunite the island.

The Cypriot leaders are under pressure to reach agreement by May 1 so that Cyprus can enter the European Union.

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