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US welcomes Cyprus breakthrough
2006-07-14 15:19:07

Athens, Jul 14 (AFP) - A US diplomatic envoy on a fact-finding tour about Cyprus said Washington welcomed the recent breakthrough in talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots on relaunching negotiations to reunify the island.

"We're pleased that they've started talks...pleased by the outcome," US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Matthew Bryza told reporters after meeting Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis.

On July 8, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed to begin a process under which technical committees will seek to resolve day-to-day community issues while tackling more problematic core questions in parallel.

Breaking two years of stalemate on reunification talks, the deal came after three hours of negotiations with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

"We're very happy with the agreement," Bryza said, reiterating the policy of the United States to seek Cyprus' unification into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

After talks in Turkey and Greece, the US envoy is next scheduled to travel to Cyprus on Sunday.

But the internationally-recognised Cyprus government has warned that Papadopoulos would snub Bryza if the US envoy ventured north to Talat's office.

Only Ankara recognizes the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) which was declared in 1983, nine years after Turkish troops occupied the island's northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at union with Greece.

The Cyprus government regards receptions at Talat's official residence as potentially implying an upgrading of his status.

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