US Sec'y of State Clinton invites Turkish Cypriot leader to Washington for talks
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has invited Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat to Washington at the end of this month to hold talks. TRNC Presidency Spokesman Hasan Ercakica announced over the weekend that the invitation was relayed to Talat on March 4. He said Talat was still assessing the invitation, adding that there was a need to have negotiations both on the next month's presidential elections timetable and the nature of the invitation. Ercakica also said a reply to the invitation would be made next week. In related news, Talat has said he will seek a second presidential term in the election in April. The winner of the election, scheduled for April 18, will be mandated to continue peace negotiations with the Greek Cypriots, a complex process that could be pivotal to Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. "It is my mission to create conditions where we can live together alongside Turkey, the Greek Cypriots, Europe and the international community," Talat told supporters on Saturday at a stadium in Lefkosa. "We have come a significant way towards a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem and our integration with the international community. However, I will not be satisfied until the job is complete." Turkey's bid to join the EU partly hinges on progress in Cypriot reunification talks because Greek Cypriots represent the island in the bloc and can obstruct that process. Talat's key challenger is Dervis Eroglu, now prime minister of the TRNC, Eroglu advocates a two-state settlement for the division of Cyprus, a prospect rejected by the Greek Cypriots.