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UN in touch with Cyprus on Iraq
2003-01-20 14:26:31

by Apostolis Zoupaniotis United Nations, Jan 20 (CNA) -- UN Spokesman Fred Eckhart said here today that the UN has been in contact with the government of Cyprus with regard to assisting the UN humanitarian efforts in the Iraqi crisis.

Eckhart also said the UN was in touch with Nicosia in connection with interviews UN experts may conduct with Iraqi scientists.|

Asked at his daily press briefing if any coordinating centers are being considered, the spokesman said ''we have been talking to Cyprus as one possible place from which to coordinate our humanitarian efforts.''

Replying to questions, he said UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) has approached the government of Cyprus with regard to conducting interviews of Iraqi officials.

Earlier today, Cyprus Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides said Cyprus was approached last week and would provide facilities for interviews, as long as it is made clear that these people will not seek political asylum and will not overstay their welcome.

UNMOVIC has offices on the island to facilitate the travel arrangements of its staff.

Replying to questions, Eckhart said the UN has been making contingency planning on how to deal with the humanitarian fall out from a military action against Iraq, should one occur.

''So that planning, which has been directed by the Secretary General's office, involves all UN funds and programs as well as development UN departments, the office of Iraq programs, political affairs, peacekeeping and so on,'' he said.

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

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