A step toward solution of Cyprus problem

There is guarded optimism in Athens that scheduled talks between Cypriot President Spyros Kyprianou and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash might mark the beginning of a sustained effort to achieve a solution to the problem of Cyprus.

UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar announced in New York Wednesday that the two leaders will have face-to-face talks Jan. 17, 1985. He said sufficient progress had been made in UN-sponsored talks on the Cyprus problem to permit such a meeting.

Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of July 1974. Numerous attempts to negotiate reunification of the island, including summit meetings in 1977 and 1979, have failed.

In his announcement Mr. Perez de Cuellar cautioned that the progress in New York should not be considered an ''achievement'' but the ''beginning of an achievement.''

Although those talks reportedly focused on all aspects of a Cyprus solution and produced movement on both territorial and constitutional issues, sources in Athens say a great deal remains to be done. The two sides have merely agreed on the agenda for the January meeting.

Nevertheless, the prospect of talks aroused some optimism in Athens not only about the Cyprus problem, but also by extension about an improvement of Greek relations with Turkey, the United States, and NATO.

The poor state of those relations was highlighted by two recent events. Early this week a flap occurred between the United States and Greece when the secretary-general of the Greek Communist Party accused the US of being behind a recent spate of bombings in Athens.

When the US ambassador to Athens protested to the Greek government, his complaint was rejected as ''unacceptable'' interference in Greece's internal affairs.

Then Wednesday a Greek government spokesman announced that Greece would not participate in any NATO military maneuvers.

The decision arose out of a dispute with Turkey over the militarization of the Greek island of Limnos. When Greece included Greek forces on Limnos in the forces it would place at NATO's disposal for next year, Turkey vetoed Greece's force commitment. Greece retaliated by vetoing Turkey's.

At least on paper that means neither country has forces included under NATO command.

The Limnos issue has already caused Greece to refuse to participate in NATO exercises in the Aegean Sea.

Although Greek officials insist that this and other differences with Turkey - which have repeatedly frustrated attempts by NATO to shore up its eastern flank - are not linked to the Cyprus problem, evidence and the comments of foreign observers point to the contrary.

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