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Anastasiades meets Ban, Kerry (Updates with spokesman comments)

President Nicos Anastasiades had separate meetings early Sunday Cyprus time with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York.

With Ban, Anastasiades discussed, not only the Cyprus problem but also regional issues, the Syrian refugee crisis and sustainable development, during their half hour meeting, the Cyprus News Agency reported from the US.

According to CNA sources, Ban was pleased with the progress in the Cyprus talks but Anastasiades had told him there was a need for Turkey to transform its words in support of a settlement, into action.

They also spoke about meetings UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide had with IMF director Christine Lagarde and senior US State Department official Victoria Nuland about the financing of a Cyprus solution.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Anastasiades said he had informed Ban on the progress in the talks and also the problems the leaders had yet to face.
“I asked not only for the contribution of the SG but from everyone involved to contribute actively to achieve a solution as soon as possible,” he said, “a solution that reunites our homeland, clears it of occupation troops, ends guarantees or guarantors, and which creates prospects for a future state that will remain a member of the European Union, and that will also meet the people’s expectations.”

Timeframes were off the table, he stressed, saying that past mistakes should not be repeated.
“We do not accept timeframes and neither are they of benefit. If there is good will and determination we will make progress without imposing schedules,” Anastasiades said.

He said Ban expected the leaders to create conditions that would allow for a solution as quickly as possible, even if that means expanding his Good Offices Mission in Cyprus to help overcome obstacles.

Anastasiades ruled out a joint meeting between himself, Ban and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci at this point. Akinci is also in New York and expected to meet the Secretary General, but Anastasiades said if Ban’s intervention in the talks was needed in the future, the leaders would ask.

A spokesman for Ban told reporters later the Secretary General had congratulated Anastasiades for the progress he and Akinci had made in the talks.
“The Secretary General particularly welcomed the commitment of the leaders to work tirelessly to achieve a settlement as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.
At the same time, he expressed his strong commitment to support Cypriots in this critical effort he added.

The US also welcomed the progress in the talks, a State Department spokesman told journalists after Anastasiades met Kerry. He also said Anastasiades and Kerry had discussed US-Cyprus bilateral relations “including our cooperation in the fight against terrorism, and common regional concerns.”

In a written statement issued on Sunday, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the discussion with Kerry had been productive and had made special mention of the need for Turkey “through concrete steps and actions to demonstrate in practice what it says in public about its desire for a Cyprus solution”.
‘There was also extensive discussion about our bilateral relations, our strategic partnership,” said Christodoulides.

“It is important that the United States recognises the strategic role that the Republic of Cyprus plays in the Eastern Mediterranean and we believe that through further strengthening of our relations, this role will also be strengthened.”

He said this would send a message on the importance of solving the Cyprus problem as soon as possible, “messages that repeat the expectation of concrete actions from Turkey”.

Christodoulides said meetings were expected between US and Turkish officials, and later on Sudnay Kerry would be meeting his Turkish counterpart and the Cyprus issue would “definitely be high on the agenda”.

Asked if Kerry announced any intention of visiting Cyprus and the region before the end of the year, Christodoulides said there was an interest there but nothing definte to announce.

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