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Turkey Rejects EU Deadline for Cyprus Deal


Turkey's foreign minister again has denounced as blackmail increasing European Union pressure on Ankara to grant trade privileges to Cyprus or face the possible suspension of EU membership talks.

Abdullah Gul said he will travel to Finland Sunday for more talks on the issue, but rejected any deadlines.

Finland's prime minister, Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, Monday gave Ankara until December 6 to open its sea and air ports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes. The European Commission, the EU top executive body, is to meet on that date to consider recommendations on the issue ahead of the EU summit in mid-December.

The internationally-recognized Greek-led government of EU member Cyprus is demanding that Turkey lift the restrictions.

Turkey says it will open its ports to Cypriot ships when the European Union lifts its isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.

Turkey insists the Cyprus problem is political and not an appropriate part of the EU negotiations.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island in response to a coup in Nicosia backed by the military government then in power in Greece.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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