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US envoy sees great opportunity to solve Cyprus problem
2002-09-04 11:49:20

Nicosia, Sep 4 (CNA) - US State Department Coordinator on Cyprus Thomas Weston said this is the greatest opportunity for Cyprus in a long time to solve the division of the island to get a just and durable settlement.

Speaking after meeting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides, Weston clarified that when he was speaking about alternative methodologies he was referring to the US view that the best chance for a settlement remains with the efforts of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General.|

He said his visit to Cyprus follows his visits to Ankara and Athens, "all of which are very much geared to trying to provide the diplomatic support the United States has tried to provide to this process from the beginning'.

"That support we believe is even more urgent at this point of time because of the timetable ahead and the necessity of taking advantage of what we see as an astonishing opportunity to solve the longstanding division of Cyprus", he said.

He described his meetings today as "very good", which follow up on some very good meetings the new US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson has had over the past couple of days.

"We now look forward to progress and acceleration of this process with the meeting coming up in Paris on Friday between the Secretary General and the two leaders", Weston said.

President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will meet the UN Secretary-General on Friday in Paris, where the latter will be informed about the progress of the UN-led direct talks on Cyprus.

Asked to clarify what he meant exactly when he spoke yesterday in Athens about "alternative ways" for solving the problem, Weston said that because of the time involved, the US believe it is "the greatest opportunity we had in a long time to solve the division of the island to get a just and durable settlement".

He pointed out that as time progresses, if more progress has not been made, which was the case up to this point, "it would be inevitable that other methodologies, initiatives and so on and so forth would have to be examined".

However, he clarified that he already added in the comment "that it was the US view that the best chance for a settlement remains with the efforts of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General".

"So when I use the word alternatives, alternative methodologies, I am referring to different ways in which the good offices mission of the SG might be exercised", he stressed.

Asked how the issue of sovereignty could be solved, the US diplomat noted "it does have to be solved", adding that "there are different views on this question on the two sides and there are contrary views, and that represents one of the key issues for resolution in the talks".

The UN talks have not progressed due to Denktash's insistence on the creation of two separate sovereign "states", contrary to UN resolutions calling for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

In remarks after meeting Denktash in the Turkish occupied areas of the island, Weston said they had "a very, very good and productive exchange of views" and that he is on the island to support a particular goal even if at times "we have different views on the best way to get there".

Denktash described Weston as "a good listener" who has his own helpful suggestions on certain matters.

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