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Schroeder Urges Turkey to Implement Key Reforms Prior to EU Talks

Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan, right, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder shake hands prior to a meeting in Ankara

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has urged Turkey to press ahead with key reforms demanded by the European Union before accession talks can begin as scheduled in October.

At a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday in Ankara, Mr. Schroeder urged Turkey to sign a document extending its customs accord to the bloc's 10 new members, which include Cyprus.

Some EU members say that would be a de facto Turkish recognition of Cyprus' Greek-led government, but Ankara disputes this.

The German chancellor also backed a Turkish proposal to create a joint commission with Armenia to study allegations that the Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I.

Later, at Istanbul's Marmara University, Mr. Schroeder also called on Turkey to expand rights for minorities and women, as well as broaden freedom of expression and religion.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.