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07 February, 2003
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will continue his efforts for a Cyprus solution until February 28, and ''has not thrown in the towel'', Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou said late Wednesday (early Thursday, Greek time) in New York after a meeting with the UN chief.
Papandreou, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency and Annan focused on the Cyprus issue and the Iraq crisis during their 40-minute discussion. They also discussed the issues of Zimbabwe and N. Korea with respect to how the EU intended to aid in their resolution.
The Greek foreign minister said that Annan had reaffirmed his insistence on the February 28 deadline the UN chief has set for the two sides on Cyprus to reach agreement for resolving the Cyprus problem, and also his determination to help in that direction up until that date. "We thank him (Annan) for all the efforts he had made, is making and will make, and we are prepared to continue our own efforts with respect to the European Union, and everywhere else Greece is involved," Papandreou said.
Greece was also prepared for discussions with the Turkish side on the security aspect in Cyprus, he said adding that "when the Turkish side is also ready, we will be able to sit at the negotiations problem and resolve this chapter of the Annan plan".
Diplomatic sources told ANA that the UN chief plans in the next few days to send letters to the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey, asking Athens and Ankara to proceed with the commencement of negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus security problem, in tandem with the ongoing efforts for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus issue.
Asked whether Annan planned to submit a revised plan, Papandreou said that the UN chief had not made any mention of a new or revised plan nor of any intentions to that effect. "But he did affirm that he will personally deal actively in the coming weeks with the effort to move forward the negotiation for a Cyprus solution. He has not thrown in the towel and will continue with greater intensity his effort until February 28," Papandreou said.
Asked if he believed a solution was feasible by that date, Papandreou replied in the affirmative, but on condition that "the two sides will be able to move ahead, with UN assistance".
As for the security aspect, he said that new contacts would be sought with the Turkish side with the hope that the Turkish side would reciprocate.
ON the Iraq crisis, Papandreou said he had had the opportunity to outline to Annan the EU's 'specific positions'.
"We desire a peaceful solution and are prepared to contribute with any initiative that he himself (Annan) considers useful and significant," Papandreou said, adding that he had also briefed Annan on his recent tour of the Middle East.
He said that the Arab world could play an important role in defusing the situation and influencing Iraq to comply with UN Security Council resolution 1441.
Papandreou said that Annan had welcomed the initiative and agreed with the view that the Arab world had an important role, and that the EU could also assist in that direction.
The foreign minister reiterated his hope that a peaceful solution would be found to the problem.
Source: Athens News Agency