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Turkish PM Urges EU Leaders Not to Block Country's Membership Talks

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged European Union leaders not to allow EU-member Cyprus block his country's membership talks.

The Turkish leader was speaking in Ankara after meeting with his Finnish counterpart Martti Vanhanen, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

The European Commission Wednesday proposed a partial suspension of Turkey's membership talks in response to Turkish refusal to open the country's ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes.

Thursday Cyprus threatened to veto the negotiating process over the dispute.

Mr. Vanhanen stressed that Turkey's place is in Europe, but said Ankara must address the issue according to EU demands.

Turkey insists there should be no link between its EU membership talks and the Cyprus issue. It has pledged to open its ports if EU officials end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.

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 AP.