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Cypriot Leaders To Meet Again December 29th

by Lorys Charalambous,, Nicosia

27 December 2001

Just in time for Christmas, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides announced that the date for Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to visit his private home in Nicosia for a reciprocal dinner has been set for December 29, the first Saturday after Christmas.

President Clerides made the announcement after weeks of speculation as to the precise timing of the long-awaited return event, following President Clerides' high profile visit to the Denktash residence in north Nicosia on December 5.

It will be the fourth time the two old friends will have met since talks between them restarted under the auspices of UN representative Alvaro de Soto on December 4, after not seeing each other for four years, and the first time since the 1974 Turkish invasion that the Turkish Cypriot leader has crossed the Green Line into the south.

Denktash yesterday told journalists that he had accepted the invitation and would travel to the Clerides residence for dinner. President Clerides said that he would keep his promise to relatives of the missing persons from 1974, and raise the subject of their whereabouts with the Turkish Cypriot leader.

Face-to-face negotiations between the two sides are due to start in mid-January, in a crucial attempt to find a solution to the Cyprus problem before the island joins the European Union. Greece has threatened to veto the whole enlargement process if Cyprus is not allowed to join; and the Turks have threatened to annex northern Cyprus if enlargement takes place before the territorial dispute is resolved on acceptable terms.

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