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Clerides discusses Cyprus and Iraq with US Ambassador
2003-02-13 11:55:10

Nicosia, Feb 13 (CNA) -- US Ambassador here Michael Klosson continues to believe that it is still feasible to reach a negotiated deal on the basis of a UN proposal on a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus by the end of February, a target date the UN has set and said the US will leave no stone unturned in its efforts towards this goal.

Klosson, who was speaking after a 45-minute long meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, also said he outlined to the President the US perspective with regard to Iraq and said that Washington appreciates the support Cyprus offers in the war against terrorism.

On next week's European Union extraordinary summit on Iraq, on which President Clerides and other heads of candidate countries will be briefed by the EU presidency on Tuesday, the US Ambassador said he hoped that the meeting would send a message stressing the need for compliance with the wishes of the international community.

Speaking to the press, Klosson said he had a ''very good meeting'' against the backdrop of other discussions going on in New York on Cyprus and in view of next week's dialogue between Greece and Turkey on security concerns, in the context of the UN peace plan.

''The US is strongly committed and at the highest level to the settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Kofi Annan plan,'' he said, noting that ''time is certainly getting shorter and the US are leaving no stone unturned'' in expressing its support to the Secretary General's good offices mission.|

Asked if it is still feasible to reach a settlement by the end of the month, he reiterated US strong commitment and a sense of hopefulness for the UN efforts and recalled the encouragement US special coordinator on Cyprus Ambassador Thomas Weston met with during his recent meetings in Ankara.

''We think it is still possible'' to find a negotiated settlement by the end of February, Ambassador Kloson said.

Asked if a Camp David type of negotiation would be suitable at this stage for Cyprus, Klosson said it was up to the Secretary General to decide on how he is going to proceed.

Quoting Kofi Annan's spokesman, Klosson said the Secretary General is considering a trip to the region but no definite dates or decision have been taken.

Replying to questions about gains Turkey may reap for its support for the US proposed offensive against Iraq, the Ambassador said ''we see Cyprus and Iraq as completely separate issues.'' Asked if he discussed with President Clerides issues relating to the Iraqi crisis, he replied ''what I did here is to make the government aware of the US perspective on this, I talked in very broad terms about Iraq and explained to him the thinking of my government.'' Invited to say if he asked the President to adopt the US position at the EU meeting, Klosson said ''each government has to make its own decisions on what it is going to do or say, I briefed the president on the US view on this issue.''

Asked if the US is pleased with the response of the Cyprus government to any requests the US has made in connection with Iraq, the Ambassador said ''in the war against terrorism Cyprus has been a very strong partner and we have really appreciated the support they have been providing in the war against terrorism.''

On US concerns about the outcome of the EU summit in Brussels next week, he said the decision before the world community is one on whether or not to ensure whether Saddam Hussein complies with what the international community has demanded of him.

''We would hope that the signal that would be sent by any groups getting together and by all governments is that the international community expects Saddam Hussein to fulfill his international obligations,'' Ambassador Klosson said.

CNA MM/GP/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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