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...and Greek Cypriots make a U-turn

After Denktas accepted the UN plan as basis for talks, Clerides who had bet on Turkish Cypriot rejection in accepting the plan, now says priority is on EU accession, settlement later. UN envoy Alvaro de Soto disputes Clerides and says there is time for a Cyprus deal

Turkish and Turkish Cypriot foreign ministers chair crucial meeting in Ankara to draft Denktas\' response to Annan\'s request for detailed list of changes Turks wanted to see in the document. Officials say response to Annan may escape today\'s deadline but is in the pipeline


Turkish Cypriot acceptance of a United Nations plan for a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus as \"basis for talks\" has foiled the plans of the Greek Cypriot side that accepted the U.N. document as starting point for fresh talks betting on a possible Turkish Cypriot rejection which would facilitate EU accession of southern Cyprus.

After Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktas accepted the U.N. plan as a basis for talks, the Greek Cypriot National Council hurriedly postponed until after the Dec. 12 summit of the European Union a response to a demand by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for detailed explanation of the changes Greek Cypriots wanted in the U.N. blueprint, and said the priority was now on EU accession.

Turkish and Turkish Cypriot foreign ministers Yasar Yakis and Tahsin Etrtugruloglu, respectively, on the other hand chaired a crucial meeting in Ankara Friday to draft the response President Denktas will be making to conform with Annan\'s request for a detailed list of changes Turks wanted to see in the document. Official sources, however, said response to Annan may escape today\'s deadline, but the U.N. was already informed that it \"is in the pipeline.\"

After a draft is prepared in Ankara talks, further evaluations will be made in northern Cyprus and the paper will then be submitted for the approval of President Denktas, sources said, stressing that this process would take \"several days.\"

While the Turkish Cypriot side was seriously working on the response to be made to Annan, however, there was a totally different atmosphere in southern Cyprus.

The Greek Cypriot National Council, meeting under the leadership of Clerides, decided on Wednesday that priority should be attached to European Union accession and a response to Annan\'s letter asking the Greek Cypriot leader to report in detail the changes he wanted to see in the U.N. plan be left until after the Dec. 12 summit of the European leaders.

The National Council, which brings together all political party leaders as well as the Archbishop of Cyprus, fully authorized Clerides regarding the response to be given to Annan and asked him to \"obtain information\" on the response to be made by the Turkish Cypriot side.

\"We are on our way to accession,\" was the President\'s response when asked Wednesday whether the Greek Cypriot side would meet Saturday\'s tight deadline for \"substantive comments\" on the U.N. plan.

According to reports from southern Cyprus, meeting the U.N. secretary-general\'s special Cyprus envoy de Soto yesterday, Clerides stressed that he would be meeting with political party leaders Monday on the response to be made to Annan, and thus needed more time.

The Greek Cypriot leader reportedly underlined that time was running out, a breakthrough for a Cyprus resolution before the Dec. 12 EU summit has become impossible and his government must concentrate now on EU accession.

The U.N. envoy, talking to reporters after the meeting, declared that he still believed a deal on Cyprus was possible by Dec. 12 and there was \"ample time\" for talks on the U.N. plan.

According to the Greek Cypriot newspaper \"Politis,\" Greece and Greek Cypriots have decided to tell the U.N. and the EU that they would not accept comprehensive bargaining for a settlement at \"5 to 12\" and shifted their priority to achieving EU accession rather than a resolution on the island.

The paper said Greece and Greek Cypriots would clearly tell \"Anglo-Americans\" that a \"surprise\" on Cyprus would not be accepted during the two weeks leading to the Dec. 12 summit of the EU and were categorically against a linkage between EU accession and a resolution of the Cyprus problem.

The paper said Greece and Greek Cypriots would tell \"Anglo-Americans\" and the EU that there could be no EU accession if Cyprus was left out.

\"Haravgi\" and \"Philelephteros,\" two other Greek Cypriot dailies, also reported the decision of the National Council saying that the resolution of the Cyprus problem was shelved until after the Copenhagen summit of the EU and EU accession was given priority.

However, neither the U.N. nor the U.S. or Britain seem to be willing to miss the opportunity for a Cyprus settlement prior to the Dec. 12 summit of the EU from which Greek Cypriots expect to get a visa for accession and Turkey expects to get a date to start accession talks.

Indicative is the increase in visits to Ankara by special envoys on Cyprus as well as by top American administration officials Marc Grossman and Paul Wolfowitz, who will be in southern Cyprus on Wednesday after visiting Turkey.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou will also be in Ankara on Wednesday, while British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is flying in later next week.

Ankara- Turkish Daily News


US, UK jets flying out of Turkey step up patrols in northern Iraq
Latest incident leaves one Iraqi dead, US drops leaflet warning on Iraqi site


Iraq said one civilian was killed when Western planes flying out of Turkey attacked civilian targets in northern Iraq on Thursday, as U. N. experts inspected sites in the country for evidence of weapons of mass destruction for a second day.

A military spokesman quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) said, \"U.S. and British planes carried out 16 sorties at 11:05 a.m. today (0805 GMT) from bases in Turkey, flying over Zakho, Duhouk, Aqra, Ain Zala, Amadiya Rawandiz, Erbil and Tal Afar.\"

The spokesman claimed the planes attacked \"civilian and service installations\" in Nineveh province, killing one civilian.

Iraq\'s anti-aircraft and missile batteries fired at the planes, forcing them to return to their bases in Turkey, he added.

A statement released by the U.S.-led Operation Northern Watch headquarters in Turkey said coalition aircraft on Thursday dropped precision guided bombs in response to Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery fire from sites south of Tall Afar, a town in Nineveh province.

The Iraqi agency INA also said American and British warplanes taking off from bases in Kuwait conducted 55 sorties over southern Iraq.

The statement provided no damage details or time of the attacks. It said all aircraft left the airspace safely.

U.S. and British jets patrol two \"no-fly\" zones set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect a Kurdish enclave in the north and Shi\'ite Muslims in the south from attack by President Saddam Hussein\'s military.

Iraq does not recognize the zones and views them as \"state terrorism and wanton aggression\", Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri told the United Nations in a letter on Monday.

U.S. officials say the continued firing at Western patrol jets by Iraqi defences is a direct violation of the November 8 U.N. resolution, aimed at ridding Iraq of any nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Other members of the U.N. Security Council, including Britain, disagree with that view.

Meanwhile, western planes dropped leaflets on a previously attacked communications site in southern Iraq, warning Iraqis to stop repairing the facility, the U.S. military said.

The drop, at about 4 a.m. EST (0900 GMT) on Thursday, combined three different leaflets, two of which urged the Iraqi military not to repair the facility that is used for tracking and engaging Western planes.

A third leaflet said Western aircraft were enforcing the no-fly zone for the protection of the Iraqi people and cautioned that threatening the planes could draw another air strike.

The unmanned communication facilities between Al Kut and Al Basrah, in the southern no-fly zone, were attacked on Nov. 22.

Since Nov. 8, Iraqi air defenses have fired on Western planes on at least 11 days in the south and twice in the north, according to a Pentagon count.


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