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US Ambassador says solution not easy but within grasp
2002-07-17 23:12:10

Nicosia, Jul 17 (CNA)-- US Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler said here today that finding a solution to the Cyprus problem is not easy but within grasp.

Speaking here at a press conference, Bandler, who leaves the island soon, pointed out that there is still much work to be done in the process of the UN- led direct talks for Cyprus, noting that "it is doable".

The American Ambassador urged Cypriots and their leaders to work hard for a solution to the Cyprus problem and noted that "for better or worse the decisions Cypriots take leading up to the Copenhagen EU Summit in December will have an important impact on Cyprus for years to come."

Replying to questions, Bandler pointed out that "an agreement by definition, is not going to be 100% pleasing for either side", noting that there would be difficulties.

"Everyone knows a settlement will require compromise and hard decisions. But decisions will have to be taken and this is the time to do it", he added.|

He also pointed out that a settlement in Cyprus will not only affect the future of the people of Cyprus, but "will also make a contribution to the process of Greek-Turkish rapprochement and security in the Mediterranean basin".

Bandler expressed the conviction that "Greek and Turkish Cypriots realise they have before them a better opportunity than ever before to reshape a common future".

Asked whether the political situation in Turkey would affect talks on Cyprus, Bandler said that "there are interests and important things about Turkey's future that are in a twine with the Cyprus issue and Turkey's interest in Cyprus", adding that only time would tell how things will work out.

Bandler stressed his country's powerful commitment to efforts for a comprehensive, just and durable solution to the Cyprus problem.

Referring to the relations between the US and Cyprus he said they are on a very sound and positive footing.

He also expressed his country's gratitude for Cyprus concrete steps, with a view to fight and deter terrorism.

Bandler said that he looks forward to hearing in the coming period that "Cypriots are taking advantage of this moment, Cyprus' moment of destiny".

"The challenge is to find the right path, one that ends division, one that creates stability, peace and trust, which will radiate throughout the region and beyond. The task is not easy but is within grasp", he added.

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged in UN-led direct talks, aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem since mid January this year.

Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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