"GAPS DIVIDING PARTIES CAN BE BRIDGED",
NEW YORK, 6 September (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was made by Secretary-General Kofi Annan after his meetings with His Excellency Glafkos Clerides, Greek Cypriot leader, and His Excellency Rauf Denktash, Turkish Cypriot leader in Paris today:
I met today with each Cypriot leader, first with His Excellency Mr. Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, then with His Excellency Mr. Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, after which I hosted them for lunch together.
I have asked the leaders to go back to the island and work with my Special Adviser, Mr. de Soto, on the issues that I highlighted to them today, and to meet with me once more in New York on 3 and 4 October.
I very much hope that the leaders will tackle the matters I discussed with them with a sense of urgency before our next meeting. Mr. de Soto will be working with them to help them achieve the requisite progress.
I have seen a great deal of speculation in the press, much of it pessimistic. My discussions today confirm my belief that, though serious differences remain, the elements of a comprehensive settlement that would meet the basic needs of both sides do, in fact, exist.
Each side has its own distinct and strongly held perspective, both on the history of the Cyprus problem and on the way forward. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that the gaps dividing the parties can be bridged. On some issues, I feel they are quite a bit smaller than when these talks began. There is an opportunity at hand, waiting to be seized.
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