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French PM Sees Turkey's EU Membership Talks Delayed Until Cyprus Recognition

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says European Union membership negotiations with Turkey cannot begin unless Ankara recognizes all EU member states, including Cyprus.

Mr. de Villepin made the comment during a radio interview Tuesday.

In response, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Ankara expects France's continued support for Turkey's EU process.

The 25-nation bloc plans to open membership talks with Turkey in October.

Last week, Turkey signed an accord that extends its customs agreement with the European Union to new member states. These include the divided island of Cyprus, which joined the bloc last year.

But Turkey said the agreement does not represent a diplomatic recognition of the Greek Cypriot government.

The EU and most nations view the Greek Cypriot government as the divided island's legitimate authority. Ankara recognizes a separate government dominated by ethnic Turks.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.