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EU and Turkey Agree To Begin Membership Talks in 2005 - 2004-12-18


It is the first major step of a 10- to 15-year process that could lead to the moderate Muslim nation joining the trading bloc.

The deal was reached Friday at the EU Summit in Brussels after Turkey agreed to sign a customs pact that includes Cyprus, but does not require Ankara to officially recognize the Greek Cypriot government on the divided island.

Turkey had previously ruled out any recognition of Cyprus, which joined the EU in May.

The accession talks are scheduled to begin in October 2005. They will be open-ended with no guarantee of EU membership for Turkey.

Turkish membership would expand the European Union's borders from Ireland to Iran.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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