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US Ambassador designate calls for settlement by December
2002-06-25 16:48:16

By Demetris Apokis-- Washington, Jun 25 (CNA) -- The US believes there is a real chance to reach a settlement in Cyprus before the European Union decides on enlargement in December, US Ambassador designate to Cyprus Michael Klosson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He also said Washington will continue to back UN efforts to find a solution and will press others to do the same. He reiterated that a solution must be based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation that should address the legitimate concerns of both sides.

"The US has long believed that it is important to achieve a just and durable comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem because it would benefit Cyprus, the region and US interests," he said.|

He added that "there is a real window of opportunity now to reach a settlement in the direct talks between the two leaders (President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash), before the EU takes its decision on enlargement at the Copenhagen Council in December."

He said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto are playing "a critically important role in this process" and the US will continue to make every effort to support their efforts.

"We will continue to press others to do the same and to call for greater urgency in the negotiations," he added.

Klosson said it was ultimately up to the two leaders to reach an agreement that will lead to a comprehensive settlement.

"We believe that a Cyprus solution must be based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation and that it is possible to reach a settlement that addresses the legitimate concerns of both sides and promotes regional stability," he said.

Referring to bilateral relations, he said these are "strong" and expressed US appreciation for Cyprus' cooperation in counter-terrorism since the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the country's willingness to be a "good friend and partner on other matters of importance to us."

He said recently the government of Cyprus was of "enormous help" when it agreed to allow thirteen Palestinians, who were besieged in Bethlehem, to stop over temporarily on their way to final destinations in the EU.

The Ambassador designate welcomed recent visits to the US by Cypriot high- ranking officials and, being the US chief of mission in Hong Kong, he said he saw some similarities between the US bilateral agenda with Cyprus and Hong Kong.

Klosson is to replace Ambassador Donald Bandler, who leaves in the summer.

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