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Weston: possibilities for settlement are enhanced geometrically
2004-03-01 12:32:38

Larnaca, Feb 29 (CNA) -- Thomas Weston, US State Department special coordinator for Cyprus, arrived here Sunday for a brief visit during which he will have contacts with the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides, which started talks last week with a view at reaching a political settlement by May 1 this year when the island joins the European Union.

Speaking on arrival at Larnaca Airport he said the purpose of his visit ''is to do what we can to support the efforts of the Secretary General both with the UN directly and with all the parties involved to the negotiations to get a settlement of the Cyprus issue''.

Noting the ''possibilities of getting a settlement are enhanced geometrically'' and there will be a finalized settlement which will be put to the people of Cyprus, the American diplomat said the question ''becomes whether the people of Cyprus will assume their historic responsibilities in voting 'yes' for the settlement, thereby achieving a settlement before Cyprus enters the EU''.

''My own view, knowing the people of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot is that they would assume a historic responsibility and will react in a positive way'', said Weston.

Answering a question for the economic cost of the solution he said ''if the question is whether the US and the international community are ready to assume responsibility in terms of assuring the necessary financial resources are available to implement a Cyprus settlement, the answer is yes''.

Answering a remark on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq he noted that what we are talking about in Cyprus is a settlement and a cost of implementing a settlement which are ''fairly clear-cut'' in a sense that there will be cost involved for resettlement of those who will have to move as well as potentially some cost for compensation.

When you are talking about Afghanistan and Iraq you are talking about the reconstruction after war and that is not the situation that we are involved here, said Weston recalling that the EU has not only pledged,but also in its' budgetary project ''committed a great deal of resources to do exactly that''.

Asked on the US contribution he said ''first the international community has to make its own assessment of the actual cost of implementing a settlement and to determine from where these resources can be attained.

''I think that you will find that the US will approach it very generously as it has in terms of providing resources to Cyprus for many - many years, almost four decades now. I can't put a figure on it, the necessary work simply hasn't been done yet to determine that figure'', Weston said.

Weston will be received by President Tassos Papadopoulos and have separate meetings with House President Demetris Christofias and Foreign Minister George Iacovou.

He will also see Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Dentkash, Mehmet Ali Talat and Serdar Denktash both of whom accompany Denktash in the UN-led talks.

The American diplomat will meet UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who conducts the talks.

Weston plans to give a press conference on Monday evening. He leaves Tuesday morning.

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