Football match cancellation leads to impasse in Cyprus talks

Updated: 2007-07-13 08:49

NICOSIA - Turkish Cypriot side canceled plans on Thursday for a meeting between the two communities' leaders after Greek Cypriots pressured an English football team to call off a friendly match in the breakaway north.

English League One club Luton Town canceled a friendly match scheduled on Wednesday night against Turkish Cypriot team Cetinkaya in northern Cyprus due to angry protests from the Cyprus Football Association, which said the match was illegal.

Rasit Pertev, an aide to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, accused the Greek Cypriots of "not even being able to tolerate a friendly match." He added that under such circumstances, it was impossible to arrange any meeting between the leaders of the two communities.

However, the Greek Cypriot side hopes that Talat will make second thoughts so that the meeting will take place.

Talat told reporters on Tuesday that he had accepted an invitation from Tassos Papadopoulos, Cyprus President and Greek Cypriot leader to meet each other in a bid to end the stalemate in reunification process.

Local media expected that the two leaders could meet within this month.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged earlier this month the two leaders to build on progress achieved to date, by showing the necessary imagination and political courage to move from talks about procedures to real engagement in substance.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened and occupied the north of the island following a coup by a group of Greek officers who pushed for union with Greece.

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