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Foreign Minister: We will assist UN with regard to Iraq
2003-01-20 14:23:04

Nicosia, Jan 20 (CNA) -- Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides said here today that Cyprus is ready to offer facilities to the UN in its efforts to interview Iraqi scientists.

The Minister also said that Cyprus is ready to host UN personnel if such personnel is evacuated from Iraq.|

''We were officially contacted last week by the UN about a possibility of interviewing Iraqi scientists in Cyprus and we will give a positive reply because we feel this is our contribution to the UN effort,'' Kasoulides told correspondents of foreign news agencies here, at a lunch hosted by CNA.

The Minister said however that certain issues would have to be sorted out before such facilities are provided, and noted that no political asylum and no long stay should be afforded to the scientists.

He said this is a question of Cyprus facilitating the work of UMOVIC (UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). UMOVIC has offices here to facilitate the travel arrangements of its staff.

Replying to questions, he said at present there are no candidates to be questioned.

UN Security Council resolution 1441 provides for interviews with Iraqi scientists outside Iraq.

The Minister said that Cyprus has accepted a UN request to welcome UN personnel if such personnel is evacuated from Iraq.

Asked if the situation with regard to Iraq, in relation to Turkey's role, poses difficulties to the Cyprus peace effort, the Minister recalled a statement by US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston that US policy on Iraq would not influence its stance on Cyprus.

Kasoulides said that Turkey, a key NATO ally whose assistance is being sought by the US for a possible offensive against Iraq, ''badly needs to be present in order to have a say in what is going to happen in the post Saddam Hussein era.''

''No doubt the hawks in Turkey will be upgraded and this perhaps may have counter-effects on the revolt of the Turkish Cypriots against Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, if there is no solution in Cyprus,'' he said.

He said he would consider it ''sheer utopia'' for Ankara to suggest to the US to recognise the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus in exchange for assistance in a possible war against Iraq.

Turkey, he pointed out, feels it has to be there to ensure that its interests in relation to the Kurdish question are satisfied.

Replying to questions, he said the meeting Turkey is hosting to try and avert a war in the region with the participation of countries in the area is ''a positive step towards that direction.''

CNA/MM/RG/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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