THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Aboard Air Force One En Route to Ankara, Turkey)
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
The Secretary General of the United Nations has just informed me that President Clerides of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash have accepted an invitation to start proximity talks in New York on December 3. The goal of the talks is to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The talks will be held under U.N. auspices. They will go forward without pre-condition. They will focus on the substantive issues that divide the parties. The United States will work closely with the Secretary General to ensure that the talks are productive.
This summer, the United States took the lead in calling on the United Nations to convene Cyprus talks. Ever since, together with our European allies and the U.N., we have been intensively engaged in an effort to bring the parties back to the negotiating table after a stalemate of more than two years. I am pleased that these efforts - including my meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit at the White House, Secretary Albright's conversation with President Clerides, and a month of shuttle diplomacy by my Special Envoy, Al Moses - have helped to produce this result.
These Cyprus talks can bring us one step closer to a lasting peace. A negotiated settlement is the best way to meet the fundamental interests of the parties - including real security for all Cypriots and an end to the island's division.
The Cyprus problem has been with us for far too long. It will not be resolved overnight. But today we have new hope. I ask the parties to approach this opportunity with good faith - and the determination to build for all the people of Cyprus a future that is brighter than the past.