Cyprus delays talks wth Britain over Turkey pact

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NICOSIA, Oct 29 (Reuters) Cyprus has postponed talks with Britain on improving bilateral relations in reaction to a British document calling on closer links with the Turkish side of the divided island, a senior official said today.

A British-Cypriot forum was due to open on November 3 with senior participants from both countries. Last week, Cyprus and Greece lodged formal protests with London over the content of a cooperation protocol signed with Turkey.

''(The meeting) is not possible at the present time,'' Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis told the state broadcaster.

Last week, she accused Britain of promoting a ''partitionist'' agenda towards the island.

The British-Turkey policy document included a call to promote direct commercial, political and economic ties with northern Cyprus, a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state recognised only by Ankara.

''We regret that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided that the meeting will not take place this weekend. We will continue to look for opportunities to build upon and strengthen our relations,'' a spokesman for the British High Commission in Nicosia said.

Cyprus's internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government represents the island in the European Union.

Turkey's EU membership bid is complicated by the division of Cyprus, partitioned in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek inspired coup.

Talks aimed at reuniting the island have stalled since Greek Cypriots rejected a UN peace deal in a referendum in 2004. Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of it.

Greek Cypriots say that Britain, which is a guarantor power of Cypriot sovereignty, is promoting partition through the protocol.

Britain says its position on Cyprus is unchanged and that it is committed to reunification.

REUTERS SKB KN1556

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