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US support UN initiative on Cyprus
2003-03-01 06:02:19

by Demetris Apokis -- Washington, Mar 1 (CNA) ? The US has expressed strong support for the latest UN initiative inviting the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides to a meeting in The Hague to tell the Secretary General whether they intend to put his peace proposal to separate and simultaneous referenda for approval.

The US has described Kofi Annan's revised proposal for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus ''just, viable and durable'' and warned against missing the present opportunity for a solution, saying such a chance may not come again.|

''The US has long supported the dedicated efforts of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to find a solution to the longstanding division of Cyprus, a solution which, as demonstrations in northern Nicosia made clear, so many Cypriots fervently desire. For this reason, we are encouraged that the leaders of the two communities on the island have accepted the Secretary-General's invitation to meet with him in The Hague on March 10,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher has said.

The Secretary General has asked the two leaders to go to the crucial meeting in The Hague prepared to tell him whether or not they will put his revised proposal for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement to referenda in their communities on March 30 for approval.

Annan also asked the leaders to complete all necessary internal consultations and processes beforehand so that their responses are definitive.

''The United States strongly supports this initiative by the Secretary General and believes that the United Nations' revised settlement plan represents a just, viable and durable solution to the division of Cyprus,'' Boucher said.

He said that ''putting the UN plan to referenda is the most democratic and constructive way to determine the future of the people of Cyprus. It is exceptionally important that the extraordinary work of the Secretary General succeed and that his comprehensive settlement plan be put to the people.''

''Cypriots should have a chance to say 'yes' to their future together and in Europe. This is an opportunity which may not come again,'' he added.

Asked if Secretary of State Colin Powell is thinking of inviting the leaders of the two communities to a meeting either before or after 10 March, Boucher noted that Powell has been involved with the Secretary General on this and frequently talks with the Secretary Genera.

The Secretary of State, Boucher said, talks about Cyprus with his Greek and Turkish counterparts as well.

''I would note that our Special Cyprus Envoy is in the region and playing a very active role, and I think a helpful one that's helping out with the UN effort. So we are very active in that way, as well. And I'm sure the Secretary will continue to be involved,'' he said.

CNA/DA/MM/2003
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