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Cypriot MPs brief US Congressmen
2002-06-12 10:51:24

Washington, Jun 12 (CNA) -- A parliamentary delegation, led by Foreign Affairs Committee President Nicos Anastasiades, has briefed US Congressmen and US administration officials about the latest developments in Cyprus with regard to the peace effort and the country's European Union accession course.

Senators and Congressmen who talked to the delegation said there is now a unique opportunity for a solution and stressed the need for negotiations in good faith.

They reiterated their support for Cyprus' bid to join the EU, saying that a political settlement is not a precondition for accession and pointed out that Turkey must keep close ties with Europe, as this would be to the benefit of both Greece and Cyprus.|

The Cypriot deputies met with Dan Fried, President Bush's adviser and senior director of the National Security Council on European affairs, to whom they expressed the need for a more active intervention on the part of the US towards Turkey in order to overcome the current impasse.

Anastasiades said the Greek Cypriot side is ready and working for a just and viable solution, on the basis of UN resolutions.

The delegation attended a working dinner the Republic's Ambassador to the US Erato Kozakou Marcoullis hosted, in the presence of academics and members of think tanks.

On Tuesday, Anastasiades met Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee and Senator Joseph Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who both accepted an invitation to visit Cyprus.

The deputies have also met with Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Benjamin Gilman.

Present in Washington is also Greek opposition leader, Costas Karamanlis, who heads the New Democracy party. He met Secretary of State Colin Powell and discussed Cyprus with him, expressing Greece's wish to contribute towards the resolution of the problem and saying that his party fully backs Cyprus' accession to the EU in the first wave of enlargement, irrespective of a political settlement.

Karamanlis also met US Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House, a meeting attended by Condoleezza Rice, US National Security Council Adviser, and discussed the Cyprus issue with them.

During the meeting it was stressed that interested parties should take advantage of the period between now and December (when the EU will decide on the candidate countries it will invite to join) to find a solution.

The US officials assured that Washington would make every effort towards this goal.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash launched talks in January, with a view to negotiate until a settlement is achieved.

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