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Arriving in Cyprus, Annan stresses urgency of finalizing deal

Arriving in Cyprus, Annan stresses urgency of finalizing deal

Kofi Annan speaks to the press
Arriving in Cyprus today, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan underscored the urgency of completing a deal that would enable a reunited country to join the European Union (EU) later this year.

"I have come to Cyprus to tell you that the entire international community is hoping and praying that a Cyprus settlement, so long delayed, is at last at hand," the Secretary-General said in a statement to the press upon his arrival in Larnaca. "It is no exaggeration to say that you have a rendezvous with destiny."

Mr. Annan told reporters he would hand over a revision of his settlement proposal – which he first presented last November and then revised in December – to the parties today and that he planned to discuss it with them tomorrow.

Among his appointments, the Secretary-General first called on the Greek Cypriot leader, Glafcos Clerides, at his home before meeting with the incoming Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, at the residence of the chief of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. Afterwards Mr. Annan met with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, at the same residence.

Last night, before leaving Greece, the Secretary General met in Athens with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou and explained to them the plan he intends to submit to the parties. They also touched on Iraq.

In a press encounter afterwards, the Secretary-General noted the unique opportunity for a united Cyprus to be brought into the European Union. "It is an opportunity and a window that is not going to remain open forever," he said.