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Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders will decide on July 25 whether to move to direct reunification talks, President Demetris Christofias said on Tuesday.

He said he would meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat this month to make a final assessment of preparations for talks which diplomats expect to start in September.

"I don't have a plan B," Christofias said, asked if he had any fallback option should the sides fail to specify when talks will begin.

"We will just continue our efforts to create the preconditions for a dialogue. We will stick to our principles, but it doesn't mean we will give up and go home," he told a news conference marking 120 days since his election as president.

Christofias has held several meetings with Talat to try to kick start talks, stalled for four years. He is generally viewed as more conciliatory than his predecessor.

Christofias said his side wanted to rebuild their partnership with Turkish Cypriots.

"We have to understand we have been partners with the Turkish Cypriots since 1960," he said, referring to independence from Britain. "Unfortunately foreign intervention and chauvinist elements on both sides didn't let that work."

But he said a solution would not be easy. "A solution will continue to be very difficult and complex, and even more so because of the political situation in Turkey."

"The key to a solution is in the hands of Turkey," Christofias said.

Financial Mirror, 09/07/2008

|||Cyprus leaders to decide July 25 for peace talks
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