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US Congressman hopes Turkish side follows suit in de-mining process
2004-11-22 10:49:25

Nicosia, Nov 22 (CNA) -- US Democrat Congressman Robert Andrews expressed hope that the Turkish side will proceed with the destruction of its minefields in the UN buffer zone in Cyprus and praised at the same time the Cypriot government's unilateral decision to lift its minefields, describing it ''a monumental step towards peace and reunification of the island.''

Speaking before the US House of Representatives, Andrews said that the Cypriot government's decision also ''illustrates the government's broader commitment to the international community as it joins international fight against mine proliferation and supports the United Nations policy of Mine Action.''

Noting the Cypriot government was acting unilaterally, Andrews said that ''unfortunately the Turkish side has not yet agreed to the de-mining of the 27 minefields in the buffer zone laid by the Turkish occupation forces.''

''We can only hope that the Turkish side will someday join the government of Cyprus in taking this necessary step towards removing these dangerous explosives,'' Andrews added.

Andrews has described as ''encouraging'' the intention expressed by so-called prime minister of the occupation regime, Mehmet Ali Talat, to proceed with the destruction of its minefields.

''It is my strong wish that the Turkish occupation forces decide to go ahead with the de-mining process, as this would be a positive development that could contribute to further reducing the tension on the island,'' the Congressman noted.

Last Thursday, the government of the Republic of Cyprus began lifting its minefields in the buffer zone. The de-mining process is funded by the European Union and is supported by the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The process is expected to be completed in a year and an estimated 2,300 mines will be cleared.

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