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US interest in Cyprus settlement will not diminish
2003-06-13 19:26:38

by Costas Iordanides -- Athens, Jun 13 (CNA) –US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston said in Athens on Thursday after meeting Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou, that a solution to the Cyprus problem was not only possible but also necessary before December 2003.

Weston's trip to Athens and then Cyprus indicates that ''for the US, the EU and the UN, the Cyprus problem has not closed'', despite the collapse of peace talks at The Hague, Papandreou said.

The US official, who arrives in Cyprus later today, was in Athens after talks in Rome and Brussels, where he had a detailed briefing on a package of EU economic measures in aid of the Turkish Cypriots.|

Papandreou said they discussed the next phase in the peace effort and talked about procedures, which could contribute to preparing the ground for a settlement.

Weston said he believes the measures announced by the government of Cyprus and those of the European Commission “are very positive and creative in the sense of finding a way, when you have very different views on the legal situation, to do something to improve the economic condition of the Turkish Cypriots and bring them closer to the EU”.

He said the measures are very welcomed but stressed that they do not constitute a settlement and are not a substitute of a settlement.

The US official emphasised that there is “no diminution of our interest for solution despite the disappointment we had in The Hague'' where the latest UN-led effort to reach a negotiated settlement failed.

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


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