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US grateful for Cyprus help to evacuate citizens from Lebanon
2006-07-19 11:14:06

Nicosia, Jul 19 (CNA) ? The US has expressed its gratitude for the help offered by Cyprus to the operation for the evacuation of US citizens from Lebanon.

Speaking during the regular US State Department briefing, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Maura Harty said ?we're so grateful to Cypriots", noting that they are offering food and drinks to people arriving to the island from Lebanon.

?They're just being fantastic. Department of Defense is meeting planes as well for security reasons and for protection purposes. We really do want to minimize the time people spend on the ground because this cannot have been a very easy passage for them from wherever they lived to the moment that they arrive in Cyprus. So we will try, to the greatest extent possible, to coordinate arrival of ships with the chartered planes that we have,? Harty said.

She noted ?we don't necessarily know, until people arrive, exactly what their own option is going to be, whether they would choose instead to take a commercial flight to someplace else, but we have the fair grounds and worst case scenarios, some people will stay there. But again, the goal is to simply to keep moving people, of course, because it will, I think, be far better for them to move on, get home, get as far away and out of harm's way as possible, but also because we're going to keep doing this effort.?

?We just want that throughput to be as efficient as it can be. So there is bottled water. There is a fair grounds that we have rented. There are some air-conditioned facilities. The Cypriot Civil Defense Force has been very helpful to us in what they have provided,? she added.

Asked if Turkey or the puppet regime in Cyprus Turkish occupied areas have been assisting the US with this effort, Harty said ?we are working very, very closely -- all of our embassies in the region are flat out working a multitude of tasks to try and affect the same goal: get American citizens out of harm's way, get them home.?

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