Washington, D.C.- Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today, to discuss the strong commitment by the government of Cyprus to securing a lasting and viable solution to reunify the island.
Iacovou and Rice will also sign an agreement regarding Cyprus’ participation in President Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which provides for shipping inspections and intergovernmental cooperation to stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
In statements upon his departure to the US, Iacovou expressed the opinion that most possibly this September a UN Secretary General’s representative will visit Cyprus to promote the efforts for the resumption of a Cyprus dialogue.
”My opinion is that soon we should expect, maybe in September, a visit of a UN Secretary General’s representative. I suppose that Kofi Annan will wait until Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos participates at the UN General Assembly, on September 10 – 12, and then decide about the next step”, he noted.
Cypriot Minister also stated that the Kofi Annan’s exploratory contacts on the Cyprus issue have not come to an end yet.
After Washington, Iacovou will depart for London, where on Tuesday he will join Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos at the talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. During his stay in London Cypriot Minister will meet with this British counterpart Jack Straw.
Iacovou said that he plans to use the July 25 meeting to outline the position of his government on the Cyprus problem and reinforce the desire to restart negotiations. He acknowledged that the U.S. and Cyprus have different views on the Cyprus issue, but said he hoped that this meeting would provide the opportunity to clearly define views on what a viable solution would include and move the process forward.
”Such visits aim at improving relations between states and adopting positions. Particularly in our case, I will convey our desire to restart negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem,” Iacovou said. “Securing a workable plan for reunification is a top priority for my government. We will continue on this path and I hope that, in discussing the ways forward, the U.S. will consider the concerns of those who must live with the settlement for generations to come,” he added.
Stressing the importance of the PSI agreement the Cypriot Foreign Minister stated that, “the addition of Cyprus to President Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative is particularly significant because Cyprus has the sixth largest commercial shipping fleet in the world and because it is situated in a strategically important region at the crossroads of three continents.” “All of us have to unite in order to defeat the scourge of terrorism,” Iacovou said.
Euripides L. Evriviades, Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S., will also attend the meeting and expressed his hope that it will help revive the negotiation process and end the division of Cyprus that has gone on for far too long.
“Just this week we commemorated the Turkish invasion of 1974 that brought the division of our country more than thirty years ago,” said Evriviades. “This is a stark reminder that we must not waver in our commitment to find a solution so that, some day soon, instead of remembering the tragic occasion of our division, we can celebrate our reunification for the benefit of all the people of our country,” he concluded.
Cyprus’ full participation in the PSI is consistent with the country’s long-standing and broad cooperation with the United States in the global fight against terrorism, the war in Iraq, suppressing money laundering, and other initiatives. In the lead up to the war in Iraq, for instance, Cyprus approved overflight rights for U.S. and other coalition military aircraft as well as use of Cypriot airports and ports.
Cyprus has also pledged assistance to the reconstruction of Iraq and implemented comprehensive anti-money laundering reforms that have won U.S. State Department support. Cyprus, with its geographically strategic position, has long been a dependable ally in the war against international terrorism.