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Powell describes crossings as interesting development
2003-04-28 20:51:21

Washington, Apr 28 (CNA) -- US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, described the easing of restrictions on the free movement of Cypriots, imposed by the Turkish occupation regime as an "interesting development" expressing the hope that it will bring pressure on the political leaders on the island to find a way forward.

In an interview with Greek TV NET, Powell also said the US were disappointed with the collapse of the talks in The Hague but believe there are positive elements in the UN Secretary-General’s peace plan to use and to work with as they move forward.

Asked what his reaction is to the failure of The Hague talks and how he sees the future of Cyprus, Powell said "we were disappointed that we were not able to achieve progress on Secretary General Annan's plan, a third version of his plan".|

"But we believe there are positive elements in that plan that are still there, available for the two sides to use and to work with as they move forward. So even though we didn't achieve what we had hoped to achieve, we hope that in the months ahead both sides will review the bidding now that the accession issue of Cyprus into the EU is dealt with", he added.

Regarding the easing of restrictions on free movement between Cyprus' northern Turkish-occupied areas and the southern government- controlled part of the island, Powell said he is "somewhat fascinated by the opening of the transit areas, the border areas, so that people can go back and forth".

He described this as "an interesting development and it will be very interesting to see what happens in the days ahead as people start to interact with one another more closely. And maybe that will bring pressure to bear on their political leaders to find a way forward",

On Turkey's European path, Powell said it (Turkey) "knows what it has to do to meet the conditions that were set forth. We believe that Turkey belongs in the European Union. I don't think the European Union will ever be complete without Turkey being a member of that union. And so we hope all the conditions will be met and I hope at some future time when it's taken up for consideration again, all the factors will be positive".

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island’s territory.

Efforts to reunite the island collapsed in The Hague in March when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash refused to put the UN Secretary-General's peace plan to a referendum.



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