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Erdogan makes first visit abroad as Turkish president

AFP , Monday 1 Sep 2014
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo:Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday visited the breakaway statelet of northern Cyprus, in his first trip abroad since his inauguration as head of state last week.

Erdogan landed in Nicosia after flying in on Turkey's new presidential jet, an Airbus plane delivered last week which has already been painted in the national colours and dubbed by the press as his "Air Force One".

He went into talks with Dervis Eroglu, the leader of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognised only by Turkey.

Visiting the breakaway TRNC is a traditional first point of call for a new Turkish president and Erdogan's visit is not expected to give any new impetus for the reunification of Cyprus.

But Erdogan vowed that he would be discussing the issue of Cyprus when he attends the NATO summit and the opening of the UN General Assembly this month.

"It is impossible for us to forget the Cyprus," said Erdogan, accompanied by his wife Emine.

"Just as Turkey, as a guarantor country Greece should fulfil its obligations," he said.

"If everyone fulfils its duties, the Cyprus issue can be solved as soon as possible," he added.

Cyprus has been divided for 40 years between the TRNC and the internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot south.

Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in 1974 in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.

Eroglu and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades relaunched peace in February but have yet to secure a breakthrough.

Erdogan is expected to visit Azerbaijan on Tuesday before heading later in the week to attend the NATO summit in Wales.

Prime minister for over a decade, Erdogan took office as president on Thursday after winning almost 52 percent of the vote in Turkey's first ever direct presidential elections on August 10.

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