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US supports de-mining of areas in and around Nicosia
2003-07-30 15:57:07

Nicosia, Jul 30 (CNA) -- The US welcomed ''the readiness expressed by both sides'' in Cyprus ''to discuss with the UN Forces in Cyprus the de-mining of areas in and around Nicosia, including within the UN buffer zone''.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said ''removing the dangers that are posed by existing minefields could make an important contribution toward improving the atmosphere on the island, in particular by improving the safety with which Cypriots may cross the 'Green Line'.'' He noted however that confidence-building measures are not a substitute for a comprehensive settlement. |

Invited to comment on Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos' proposal to Turkish Cypriot leader Raul Denktash for a de-mining process of the entire dividing line, Boucher said ''we welcome the readiness now expressed by both sides on the island to discuss with the UN Forces in Cyprus the de-mining of areas in and around Nicosia, including within the UN buffer zone.''

''This is the first time that both sides have announced a common desire to address this important issue. We hope these statements will translate quickly into concrete, practical results,'' he added.

The State Department official added ''while we hope that genuine confidence-building measures improve the atmosphere on the island for achieving a settlement, we note that they are not a substitute for a comprehensive settlement.''

Invited to say if the US supports that the entire line should be de-mined, including the area he mentioned, Boucher said ''as much de-mining as occurs we would be supportive of. We understand the proposals at this point are de-mining in areas in and around Nicosia, including on the Green Line,'' he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

CNA/MK/GP/2003

ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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