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Cyprus not in the high-risk zone says Kazamias
2003-03-17 18:36:54

Nicosia, Mar 17 (CNA) ? Cyprus does not fall in the high risk zone where the war against Iraq will take place, said here Monday Communications and Works Minister, Kikis Kazamias, noting that the message that should be addressed to all directions is that "Cyprus is considered a safe haven by many".

Kazamias' statements came as Foreign Minister George Iacovou discussed with US Ambassador to Cyprus, Michael Klosson the issue of the crowded Nicosia FIR by US warplanes.

The meeting, although scheduled, examined many issues, among them the large presence of US warplanes in the Nicosia Flight Information Region due to the air carriers in the eastern Mediterranean, amid preparations for a US forces strike against Iraq.

During the meeting, it was ascertained that the Nicosia FIR is fully controlled by the Civil Aviation department and it was agreed that both sides would be in touch about the issue.|

Communications Minister, Kazamias, stressed that additional landing permits were requested by various companies and the government has decided to grant them, but stressed the view that Cyprus is still a safe destination, even as far as being considered a place for those abandoning the hot zone area.

"Under no circumstances the island's national airspace has been affected" as far as the large movement of US warplanes is concerned in the Nicosia FIR, he said adding that "so far, the situation is under control" and the government is in touch with European and international organisations where they are exchanging views and experiences.

In another development regarding the imminent war in Iraq, Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the Cyprus government is fully aware of what is going on in the British Bases in Cyprus.

He said there is a military mobility there, however he did not know any details of this.

The Spokesman said the US warplanes are flying at an altitude, which does not affect civil aviation.

Meanwhile, Alexis Michaelides, Vice Mayor of Larnaca, the eastern coastal town where the UN runs direct flights to Baghdad and is used to send in and bring out weapons inspectors, met with UN aid workers Monday who are on the island.

He said he was aware of rumours that in the event of a war the UN Humanitarian offices in Baghdad will close and be transferred to Larnaca, noting, "there is such possibility but there is still no decision".

Michaelides pledged to offer the UN aid workers any assistance and facilities required, adding the municipality is at their disposal and is supporting their work.

Five UN helicopters used by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in Iraq arrived at noon today at Larnaca International Airport.

The helicopters came from Damascus, where they had flown from Iraq.

The 16 pilots aboard the UN helicopters are staying at a hotel in Larnaca, where the UNMOVIC has set up a centre.

Britain has retained two sovereign base areas in Cyprus since the island gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

CNA/ES/MAN/EC/MK/2003
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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