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Four US priorities with regard to Cyprus
2002-10-25 09:35:35

Nicosia, Oct 25 (CNA) -- The US has four priorities with regard to its relations to Cyprus, relating to support for the UN peace effort, cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, law enforcement cooperation and promoting strong commercial relations, a priority US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson has described as ''the best'' of all four points.

In his first public speech since arriving on the island two months ago, Klosson stressed the sense of urgency that exists in efforts to find a settlement that would meet ''the legitimate interests'' of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides.

He disclosed that discussions are underway to set up a local branch of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, which deals security matters between the State Department and US business around the globe.|

On law enforcement, the Ambassador said Cyprus' advantages as a regional banking centre may attract financial crime and he referred to ''recent stock market scandals.''

With regard to commercial relations, he said the country's accession to the European Union could enhance these ties.

Addressing a dinner by the Cyprus American Business Association, the Ambassador said ''the coming months present an historic opportunity that may not repeat itself for the two parties (Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides) to make a breakthrough'', noting that EU accession for Cyprus and eventually Turkey can be ''a positive and unifying force for the entire region.''

He said a settlement will benefit Cypriots ''from one end of the island to the other, economically, politically and culturally''.

Klosson said US special coordinator for Cyprus Tom Weston will be in Cyprus next week, adding that the US stresses to both sides the need for urgency in these negotiations in order to reach ''an equitable and enduring agreement by the Copenhagen summit.''

''Time is not unlimited and the process will have to be intensified'', he said.

The Ambassador said that next week's general elections in Turkey ''will impact the negotiations'' and reiterated US backing for ''the closest possible relationship'' between the EU and Turkey.

''The EU Copenhagen summit now looms as a key milestone in taking that relationship to a new stage,'' Klosson added.

Referring to the fight against terrorism, he advocated ''full compliance with UN Security Council resolutions'' by Iraq and warned Baghdad that failure to do so will bring down on it ''the ultimate sanction of the international community.''

Describing Cyprus as ''a valuable partner in the international effort to combat terrorism'' he said the country's geographic location and regional links make it an ''especially important member of the international coalition.''

''The government of Cyprus has risen to the occasion. We have enjoyed its strong support on a multitude of levels,'' he added.

The Ambassador revealed that the embassy has begun discussions with the Association and others on the establishment of a country council in Nicosia of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a vehicle which provides for greater cooperation on practical security matters between the State Department and overseas American business.

On law enforcement cooperation he said Cyprus could attract financial crimes which ''may well involve related companies operating both our countries under cross-ownership arrangements''.

He commended the government for taking several steps to combat this kind of crime and pointed to the need for full cooperation with the business community.

On the protection of intellectual property rights he said it is estimated that 61 per cent of the software used in Cyprus last year was pirated, which is 50 per cent higher than the European average of 40 per cent.

Commenting on the fourth priority - strong commercial rights -, he said ''I have saved the best for last'' and predicted that Cyprus' accession has the potential to enhance commercial relations with the US.

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