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Turkish Cypriot Leader Boycotts UN Meeting - 2001-09-08

United Nations officials are expressing regret over the decision by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash not to attend a meeting next week in New York.

U.N. officials had hoped to resume the Cyprus negotiations next Wednesday and President Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, had accepted the invitation to come to New York. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been sponsoring a series of so-called "proximity talks" in which Mr. Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have met separately with the special U.N. envoy for Cyprus.

Another round of talks was set but Mr. Denktash says the proper groundwork has not been developed that could justify a resumption of the talks. Last November, Mr. Denktash left the talks, saying that a U.N. working paper was one-sided, reflecting only a Greek Cypriot plan for the unification of Cyprus.

U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva expressed regret over Mr. Denktash's decision not to resume the talks next week. "We regret this development," he said. "We hope this is not Mr. Denktash's final position. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and efforts must get back on track without delay and in earnest."

For several years, U.N. officials have been attempting to lay the groundwork for a final agreement on a united Cyprus with some autonomy for the Greek and Turkish communities. Cyprus has been split into the Turkish north and the Greek South for 26 years with U.N. peacekeeping forces maintaining a cease-fire between the two sides.