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US welcomes EU decision on Cyprus
2002-12-18 09:42:21

by Demetris Apokis-- Washington, Dec 18 (CNA) -- The US has welcomed a European Union decision to accept Cyprus as a fully fledged member of the Union, noting that ''this is a good thing, part of a broader good thing of the enlargement of the European Union''.

Answering questions during yesterday's briefing about efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, State Department's spokesman Richard Boucher said ''we're always ready to support the efforts of the UN, of the Secretary General,'' adding that ''we do think the opportunity that has existed still exists, and we look forward to continuing to work with the parties, with the neighbors and with the United Nations to try to achieve a settlement there.''|

Asked about February 28, 2003, a date set by the EU as a target date for a Cyprus settlement, Boucher replied: ''I don't know what the UN is saying these days about target dates, but we're certainly continuing to work hard in support of the United Nations.''

Boucher also welcomed the EU decision on the accession of another nine candidate states, apart from Cyprus, noting that ''enlargement of the EU brings people to participate in the community of freedom, and that's important for us all.''

Asked about Copenhagen's decision on Turkey, Boucher said ''we described this as a visionary decision by European leaders.''

''We've encouraged our friends and allies to work energetically towards this goal, even though we haven't been members and are not members, not planning to be members, either, of the European Union, and just said we've strongly supported Turkey's efforts at political and economic reform in order to attain that goal of membership, which we think is so important,'' he added.

Cyprus and other nine candidate countries were invited last Friday by the EU to join its ranks. The 10 countries are expected to become full members of the Union, on May 1st 2004.

The 15 EU partners also said they would decide on the date of the commencement of Turkey's accession negotiations in December 2004.


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