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17 September, 2002
The United States will make every effort for calm to prevail in Cyprus, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou in a meeting they had here on Monday. Powell was responding to the issue raised by the Greek foreign minister of threats by Turkey of a crisis in the region due to Cyprus' forthcoming accession to the European Union.
Papandreou said after his meeting with Powell that the U.S. Secretary of State had asked him what his view was on the document submitted by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash last week for a settlement of the Cyprus issue. The Greek minister replied that in Denktash's document there were no substantial elements, apart from one or two proposals. Papandreou and Powell agreed for the need for cooperation aimed at supporting U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's efforts, after the elections in Turkey on November 3.
According to assessments by diplomatic sources, negotiations on the Cyprus issue are due to intensify in the coming period, both in view of the meeting between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash in New York on October 3 and the EU summit in Copenhagen.
It is considered certain that following the elections in Turkey, Annan will submit a plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem and consequently the discussions which are being held during this period may eventually constitute a framework within which Annan will act upon.
In his statements, Papandreou stressed that if there is a solution to the Cyprus problem this will also be of great importance for Turkey which is interested in promoting its European prospects. Voicing the U.S. position, Powell raised the issue of a setting of a date for the start of Turkey-EU accession talks, while Papandreou on his part reiterated the Greek position that Greece is positive on condition that Turkey fulfills its obligations.
Papandreou said that he again received congratulations by Powell for the eradication of the ''November 17'' terrorist group, adding that during the meeting he stressed the need for further cooperation between the two countries on this issue.
The two ministers also discussed the issue of Iraq, in view of the UN Security Council resolutions. Papandreou told reporters that no issue has yet been raised for the participation of European forces in the military operations even though it is assessed that apart from Britain, it is not expected that troops from other EU countries will be sent to Iraq. Papandreou said the EU will contribute mainly politically and financially.
The Greek minister further said that he expounded to Powell Greece's plans during its presidency of the EU in the first half of 2003 for the strengthening of EU-U.S. relations, cooperation for the combatting of terrorism and cooperation with Russia and Ukraine. The Greek ideas were welcomed with satisfaction by Powell.
Later in the day, Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Sukru Sina Gurel signed the special protocol for cooperation between the two countries in coping with natural disasters.
Source: Athens News Agency