Cyprus has sent a message of protest to the U.S. government over its invitation to the leader of the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state to visit Washington later this month, officials said Wednesday. The island's Greek-Cypriot leaders were angered by the invitation and said it could hurt efforts to restart negotiations on reunifying the divided island.
Mehmet Ali Talat will hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Oct. 28 and may meet with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York. The visit was officially confirmed Monday, the AP reports.
Cyprus has been separated into a Greek-Cypriot controlled south represented by the internationally recognized government and Turkish-occupied north since 1974, when Turkey invaded in the wake of an Athens-backed coup by supporters of union with Greece.
U.N.-sponsored talks on Cyprus have been deadlocked since April 2004 when Greek Cypriots rejected a reunification plan drafted by Annan. Turkish Cypriots had accepted the deal.
Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the invitation to Talat "does not support attempts to restart negotiations for solving the Cyprus problem." A.M.