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May and Anastasiades discuss bilateral relationship (updated)

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May greets President Nicos Anastasiades at Downing street

 

Relations between the UK and Cyprus are evolving very well and there are other issues on which the two countries can build on, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday after meeting Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades at 10 Downing Street.

“I am sure that the ties that bind us together for centuries will continue in the future,” Anastasiades said.

He added that the meeting provided an opportunity to exchange views and to brainstorm about bilateral relations, Brexit, but also the Cyprus issue. he also invited May to visit the island in the future.

It was his first meeting with May, which also saw bilateral relations and the latest developments on the settlement negotiations discussed.

The president arrived in the UK on Monday after his New York trip where he addressed the UN General Assembly and had a tripartite meeting with the UN Secretary General and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mustafa Akinci.

He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kassoulides, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides and other officials.

The British prime minister also gave her wishes to Anastasiades for his 70th birthday, celebrated on Tuesday, along with a gift.

Following the meeting, which lasted about an hour, Christodoulides told reporters that it was a constructive discussion during which two issues dominated.

“Firstly our bilateral relations and the need – after the recent referendum of the British people for Brexit – for these relations not only to be maintained but to be further strengthened,” he said.

He added that there was also a discussion on the negotiations between Brussels and London that are expected to begin after the British government decides to trigger Article 50 – the formal mechanism for leaving the European Union – and the need to achieve a smooth transition from the current state of affairs to the new situation.

Christodoulides said that the second issue discussed was the Cyprus problem, particularly matters related to the transformation of the Republic post-settlement as well as those of security and guarantees for which the president gave a detailed briefing of the proposal submitted at the negotiating table.

He added that there was also an extensive discussion on the territory and property issues and for their interconnection.

“I must say that Mrs May is well aware of developments in the Cyprus problem, and in general the state of affairs at the negotiating table,” Christodoulides said.

The British prime minister has already discussed the Cyprus problem in her recent meeting with the Turkish President, he said. He added that May expressed Britain’s readiness to help either through the UN Security Council or otherwise.

May, he said, reiterated Britain’s position that they do not claim the role of guarantor power but that they are ready to play any role requested and agreed on by both communities.

“The British Prime Minister Theresa May has renewed the UK’s strong support to the leaders of Cyprus’ two communities as they embark on the next stage of the process and expressed hope that they would be able to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion within the period they have set themselves,” a statement issued by the UK High Commission in Nicosia said following the meeting.

It added that the weeks ahead will be pivotal in seeing whether the leaders can bridge the gaps that still remain on several important chapters of the negotiations. “The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK stands ready to help the two sides in their efforts to secure an historic agreement to reunite Cyprus. Prime Minister May and President Anastasiades discussed ways in which the UK might usefully do this,” the statement said.

Citing president Anastasiades’ address to the UN General Assembly last week, it said that the current negotiations present a “window of opportunity” for all Cypriots. “The UK government believes the right solution to the Cyprus issue will bring clear economic and security benefits for Cyprus, for Cypriots and for the region”.

Earlier in the day Anastasiades visited the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain, while on Monday night he briefed Cypriot expats in London on the course of Cyprus talks.

Following his meeting with May, the president will fly to Paris, where he will be received on Wednesday by President Francois Hollande.

He is expected to return to Cyprus late on Wednesday.

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