C. Powell to meet Turkish Cypriot leader

April 30, 2004 at 9:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will meet a Turkish Cypriot leader in New York next week, the U.S. State Department announced Friday.

The meeting with Mehmet Ali Talat, the prime minister of the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, will take place at the U.N. headquarters May 4, the department said.

The United States does not recognize that Turkish Cyprus became an independent state in 1983.

Although the official U.S. position remains unchanged, the Bush administration indicated last week it would be more lenient towards the Turks. The change followed a U.N.-sponsored referendum seeking reunification of the Greek and Turkish halves. While the Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly for reunification, the Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal.

Although Greek Cypriots will join the European Union May 1, Turkish Cypriots will not do so despite voting for reunification.

Both the European Union and the United States, however, have said the Turks will be rewarded for the reunification vote. The European Union pledged $310 million in aid and the Bush administration agreed to an official meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader.

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