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Greek-Cypriot Leader Rejects Charge He Misrepresented UN Cyprus Plan - 2004-06-03

Greek-Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has rejected a U.N. report that blames him for the failure of Secretary General Kofi Annan's Cyprus peace plan. The Cypriot leader discussed the future of efforts to reunify the divided island with Mr. Annan at U.N. headquarters in New York.

In two reports issued this week, Secretary General Annan lays much of the blame for the failure of his Cyprus peace plan on Greek Cypriots, who voted against the proposal in an April referendum. The reports single out Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos for special criticism, charging him with misrepresenting the U.N. plan, in order to defeat it.

Mr. Papadopoulos rejected the charge, and came to New York to argue his case in a face-to-face meeting with the secretary general. Afterward, he said he had told Mr. Annan the report was inaccurate in several respects.

He told reporters he was especially unhappy with the report's conclusion that he had distorted the plan to voters during the referendum campaign.

"I have deceived nobody ever. Let me say that the people of Cyprus are [a] highly literate populace, and are highly politicized, ... and, to say the least, it would be unfair, if not insulting, to people of Cyprus that they voted the way they voted because they were in any way misguided," he said.

During his meeting with Mr. Papadopoulos, Secretary General Annan is reported to have said he sees little reason to continue his efforts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, as long as the stalemate over reunification continues.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Mr. Annan had urged the Cypriot leader to find a way to break the impasse. "The secretary general said that, after the decisive rejection of the plan by the Greek Cypriots, it would be for that side to explain clearly to the Turkish Cypriots, the United Nations and the rest of the world how they see the way forward," he said.

Mr. Annan also appealed to Mr. Papadopoulos to cooperate in eliminating the economic isolation of Turkish Cyprus.

In his report, the secretary general praised Turkish Cypriots for voting in favor of his peace plan in the April referendum. Mr. Annan says the Turkish Cypriots show of support had done away with any reason there might have been for pressuring or isolating them.

In another development, the United States says it is recognizing Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat as leader of the Turkish Cypriots, and not Rauf Denktash.

A State Department spokesman noted that Mr. Talat had been the Turkish Cypriot representative for talks in Switzerland earlier this year on the U.N. Cyprus reunification plan. Mr. Denktash, who has led Turkish Cyprus for decades, opposed the plan.