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Cyprus: UN envoy voices hope for comprehensive settlement

Cyprus: UN envoy voices hope for comprehensive settlement

Mr. Alvaro de Soto
Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser on Cyprus has voiced hope that talks currently under way could succeed in resolving longstanding differences.

“I continue to believe there are grounds for optimism that they [the leaders] can indeed complete their task for a comprehensive settlement,” Alvaro de Soto told a press conference in Nicosia on Monday.

Since the start of direct talks on 16 January, the leaders have held 22 meetings, according to Mr. de Soto, who lauded the “positive atmosphere” that had prevailed. He said the talks “are largely lacking in rhetoric,” adding that the leaders “have eschewed labels and are therefore approaching their task in a constructive spirit.”

On the negative side, he recalled that the UN Security Council had registered its concern that progress is slow – “particularly slow if one is mindful of the target that was set” for the completion by June. The Council had also noted “that the leaders should address with a sense of urgency, political determination and flexibility and in a spirit of give and take, the task at hand.”

The Special Adviser hailed the fact that there had been little “leakage” regarding the substance of the talks, currently under the news blackout to facilitate the process. Explaining the usefulness of the policy, he noted that “if bits and pieces of what is being discussed are to come out, it is misleading because the readers, the public at large, and the viewers in the case of TV and the listeners in the case of radio, will not know how to interpret these bits and piece because they will be seeing them or hearing them and reading them out of context.”

Asked about the need for progress, Mr. de Soto noted that he could not force the leaders “in any way, but having regard to my intimate conviction that their interests, as well as others concerned, lies in achieving a settlement, and having regard to the opportunity that exists now, the sense of urgency as impressed upon them by the members of the Security Council, should simply be a matter of consequence and logic and I hope that all will draw the right conclusions.”