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Turkish PM Denounces EU Decision to Partially Freeze Membership Talks


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced a decision by European Union foreign ministers to partially freeze Turkey's membership talks.

The Turkish leader said Tuesday the decision was "unfair."

EU foreign ministers agreed Monday in Brussels to partially freeze membership talks with Ankara.

Ministers said they had agreed in principle to accept a European Commission proposal for suspending talks on eight of 35 policy areas, or "chapters," in the negotiations. They said the internationally-recognized Greek-led Cyprus government is blocking final agreement on references to direct trade with the Turkish Cypriot community.

Turkey agreed last year to extend its EU customs agreement to 10 countries that joined the bloc in 2004, but it has failed to normalize trade with Cyprus.

Turkey insists there should be no link between its EU membership bid and resolution of the Cyprus issue. Ankara has pledged to open its ports to Cyprus if EU officials end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.

Top leaders of the 25 EU countries are expected to review the suspension issue at their summit later this week.

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 and Reuters.

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