UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday that technical discussions between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides would be held to prepare the ground for a possible resumption of peace talks on the reunification of the island.
"The Secretary General was pleased to note that the leaders of both communities have agreed that bicommunal discussions on a series of issues, agreement on which is needed for the benefit of all Cypriots, will be undertaken at the technical level," said a joint statement issued after an hour-long meeting between Annan and Cyprus President Tasso Papadopoulos in Paris.
The statement, which was read out to the press by Annan's spokesman Stephan Dujarric, said that Annan and Papadopoulos expressed their common hope that these discussions would help restore trust between the two communities as well as prepare the way for the earliest full resumption of the negotiating process.
"The Secretary General noted that he had received assurances from the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mr. Talat that he shared the same aspirations," Dujarric added, according to a dispatch by the semi-official Cyprus News Agency.
The statement said that Annan and Papadopoulos agreed to continue their ongoing dialogue with the expressed aim at accelerating the search for a comprehensive, fair and mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem.
They also agreed that the resumption of the negotiating process within the framework of the Secretary General's good offices must be timely and based on careful preparation.
"The Secretary General and Mr. Papadopoulos also agreed that it would be beneficial for all concerned and would greatly improve the atmosphere for further talks if progress could be achieved on further disengagement of forces and demilitarization of the island, on the complete de-mining of Cyprus and on the issue of Famagusta, " he said.
According to Dujarric, both men welcomed recent decision by the European Union to release the much awaited funds for the benefit of the Turkish Cypriot community.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974.