French minister makes first call on north Cyprus

18th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

NICOSIA, Jan 17 (AFP) - A French minister wrapped up a 24-hour trip to Cyprus Monday during which she became the first ever member of the French government to visit the breakaway Turkish-held north of the island.

NICOSIA, Jan 17 (AFP) - A French minister wrapped up a 24-hour trip to Cyprus Monday during which she became the first ever member of the French government to visit the breakaway Turkish-held north of the island.

Assistant minister for European affairs Claudie Haignere told AFP that her visit had no official status and that she was merely visiting Turkish Cypriot representatives for "private talks" aimed at encouraging dialogue between the island's divided communities.

"We have always sought to promote reconciliation in a bid to reach a settlement," she said.

Haignere also met Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and other Cypriot officials during her visit.

Former colonial power Britain has sent government ministers to north Cyprus in the past but the island's accession to the European Union in May last year has sparked increased interest in a settlement among the other members of the 25-nation bloc.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey occupied its northern third following a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at union with Greece.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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