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US appreciates Cyprus' contribution to lifting of siege in Bethlehem
2002-05-11 13:01:46

By Demetris Apokis,Washington, May 11 (CNA) -- Washington has expressed appreciation for the contribution of the government of Cyprus to the effort to end the standoff at the Church of Nativity, in Bethlehem.

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US was "grateful to the European Union and Cyprus for taking on the responsibility for solving the issues related to the sending of 13 militants out of the region."

Cyprus is hosting temporarily 13 Palestinians Israel has on its most-wanted list. They arrived on the island Friday morning and a decision about their ultimate destination is expected to be taken on Monday by the European Union General Affairs Council.|

"We certainly appreciate Cyprus making it possible for these people to move out of the region itself, out of Bethlehem itself," Boucher said Friday.

He expressed hope that "this very positive development can help make progress towards the resumption of security cooperation and of the political dialogue between the two sides."

Boucher said the US is in touch with many countries about this issue and added that the Europeans are still considering how they might help in this matter.

The 13 Palestinians, one of whom is receiving medical care in Larnaca General hospital, are not under detention but are under police guard for their own safety.

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