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14 October, 1997
Veteran US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, the special US presidential emissary on the Cyprus issue, appeared particularly upbeat after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz yesterday.
"I shall be able to take a very positive view of the Turkish position to Washington when I report to Secretary (of State Madeleine) Albright and President (Bill) Clinton," he said.
Mr. Holbrooke said he was not bearing any special proposal to his talks and that the aim of his visit was to be briefed on Turkish positions.
"I haven't come to make any proposal. I've come to hear Turkish views on a variety of issues, primarily Cyprus; views which are complex and deeply rooted in history," he told reporters.
As tension rose yesterday and Sunday between Greece and Turkey after multiple violations of the Athens and Nicosia FIRs by Turkish warplanes and in the midst of Greek and Cypriot military exercises, Mr. Holbrooke called on Greece, Turkey and Cyprus to restrict their military maneuvers.
"I do not like anything which increases tension in the area," he said after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.
"I would like to see Greece, Turkey and Cyprus generally limit their exercises. I believe it is a waste of money and time," he stressed.
He also reiterated how important accession to the EU was for Turkey, adding that the US supported this goal.
Mr. Holbrooke's sudden decision to visit Ankara has prompted speculation among the Turkish press that his concern at the Turkish stance had hastened his visit to Turkey in order to prevent a further hardening.
Athens 14/10/1997 (ANA)
An announcement later from the office of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel said Cyprus should not have become a problem in relations between the US and Turkey.
The announcement was issued after Mr. Demirel's meeting with Mr. Holbrooke, adding that it was also "mistaken" that Cyprus developed into a problem for relations between Turkey and the European Union.
"Turkey wants a resolution of the Cyprus problem more than anybody," the announcement said, adding that after 23 years, the issue appeared to be exceptionally difficult and that Cyprus "could not become a member of international organizations without the approval of Greece and Turkey."
Source: Athens News Agency