February 9, 2004 

Q:    Mr. Secretary-General, on the subject of your talks tomorrow on Cyprus , just a couple of little things.  One, sir can you give us a statement on what you hope to accomplish, what the best case scenario would be, whether these talks might continue in Cyprus in the region with Mr. [Alvaro] de Soto.  And specifically, I'm reading from a report here, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash wants the UN to drop its insistence of holding a referendum on the peace plan irrespective of the final agreement. He also wants a guarantee that the UN won't dictate how many troops Turkey can keep on Cyprus , if that proves a stumbling block.  Would you be willing
to compromise on that or address those big issues?

SG:  For reasons you can understand, I'm not going to go into all those questions in detail.  These are issues we are going to be discussing at the table and let me say that I hope when the leaders come tomorrow, at least we can agree on the ground rules of how to proceed and agree on a work programme that will enable us to conclude our work on the 1st of May.  I have made proposals to them for us to discuss when they come here, because, quite frankly, as I have said, we don't have much time if we are going to meet the deadline of 1 May.  It means we will have to finish the negotiations by [the] end of March to be able to have the referendum in April.  So we will discuss all this to see if the parties are prepared to engage and to sustain the effort for us to ensure that a united Cyprus enters the EU on the 1st of May.

Q:    So would you consider extending them this week, after tomorrow, go back to

SG:   I think that is the intention, unless there is an unforeseen development.

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