Embassy Row

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IT TAKES AN OPTIMIST

President Clinton's special envoy for Cyprus is the type of diplomat who always thinks the glass of water is half full. "By nature, I'm an optimist. I wouldn't have taken the job if I wasn't an optimist," Alfred Moses told reporters in Cyprus yesterday.

Mr. Moses had just concluded meetings with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, leader of the Greek-Cypriot community, and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. He had also met Mr. Denktash on Tuesday.

Although Mr. Moses made no progress in getting either side to move toward new talks on reuniting the divided island, he insisted he had good meetings.

He also signaled that he had no new diplomatic initiative to offer, despite years of pledges from the White House. He said he just wants to be a "facilitator." His is a Cyprus listening tour.

"It's been a very good meeting," Mr. Moses said after talks with Mr. Clerides. He flashed waiting reports the thumbs-up sign.

Cyprus government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, however, told reporters that nothing had changed.

Mr. Clerides insists that Turkish-Cypriots agree to reunite under a federal state that represents both communities. Mr. Denktash demands diplomatic recognition for his Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is now recognized only by Turkey.

"President Clerides stuck firmly to the position of the Greek Cypriot side, and it is clear that Mr. Denktash has remained on his unacceptable terms," Mr. Papapetrou said.

"It is clear Mr. Moses hasn't been able to change Mr. Denktash's intransigent stance."

Mr. Denktash on Tuesday thanked Mr. Moses for his visit and "for his patience in listening to us."

"We had a good exchange of views," he added.

Mr. Moses said he was not trying to tell the two sides what to do.

"I will not here suggest how the problems in Cyprus should be resolved . . . but would rather be a facilitator to bring the two communities together for the benefit of all the people in Cyprus," he said.

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