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US Recognizes Mehmet Ali Talat as Turkish Cypriot Leader - 2004-05-26

The State Department says the United States now considers the head of the Turkish administration on Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat, as the leader of the Turkish Cypriots.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday it was Mr. Talat who met with Secretary of State Colin Powell for talks in New York earlier this month.

The spokesman said the Turkish Cypriot community put forward Mr. Talat as its negotiator in talks with Greek Cypriots on a Cyprus settlement. Mr. Talat strongly supported the United Nations plan to reunify the ethnically divided island. Greek Cypriots rejected the plan in last month's referendum while Turkish Cypriot voters backed it.

Mr. Boucher did not comment on whether the United States is cutting ties with veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who opposed the U.N. plan.

While not recognizing a Turkish Cypriot state on Cyprus, the United States and European Union have promised hundreds of million of dollars in aid to the Turkish Cypriots as a reward for supporting the U.N. plan.