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Akel withdraws from president’s negotiating team

President Anastasiades with his negotiating team

Main opposition Akel reportedly withdrew its member from the Cyprus problem negotiating team on Monday over disagreements with the way President Nicos Anastasiades was handling reunification talks.

The party’s expert, Toumazos Tselepis, did not take part in a meeting of the negotiating team on Monday evening, with a report suggesting later it was due to the party’s disagreement with Anastasiades’ handling of the national issue.

The party did not comment on the matter but a presidential palace source told the Cyprus Mail it was a decision by Akel’s secretariat.

Private Sigma television reported that Tselepis, widely respected as an authority, will return to the negotiating team when the party is convinced of the president’s sincerity that he was negotiating within the agreed framework.

Speaking after the 90-minute meeting, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said the team was briefed about the arrival of UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute this weekend and the contacts ahead to form the terms of reference for the resumption of the talks.

“Our side is ready to discuss the substance of the terms of reference starting with Mrs Lute,” Prodromou told reporters.

The spokesman said Lute will also be seeing the guarantor powers – Turkey, Britain, and Greece. She has already met with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.

Lute will be staying on the island for three to four days, Prodromou said.

The spokesman denied having missed a deadline.

“The aim was to shape the terms of reference as soon as possible and provided all the sides showed readiness, that is the Turkish side, we will be able to agree. It had been said that this could be done by the end of the year.”

With the terms, Prodromou said, the UNSG wants to have a solid ground on which all the parties will pledge to negotiate a solution of the Cyprus problem.

The meeting of the negotiating team was the first since the talks broke down in the summer last year.

Former attorney-general Alecos Markides also declined to attend despite the invitation, after having quit the team a long time ago. Legal expert Polys Polyviou was absent abroad and could not make it.

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