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Cyprus solution would send ‘message of peace’

French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault with his Cyprus counterpart Ioannis Kassoulides

France has always supported a solution to the Cyprus problem based on European principles and international resolutions, the country’s Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Tuesday, following a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.

Ayrault reaffirmed France’s support for a reunited Cyprus without anachronistic divisions, and stressed that a solution is up to the Cypriots to find.

The French minister welcomed President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s determination for progress in the ongoing peace talks and expressed the wish that a solution is found as soon as possible “to the benefit of Cyprus, the European Union and the wider region.

“The reunification of Cyprus will send a unique message of peace in the region,” Ayrault said.

Asked about France’s views on Turkish guarantees in Cyprus, Ayrault said the EU and France’s role is one of support, but it remains up to the intercommunal talks to arrive at a solution.

“France is in close contact with other permanent members of the Security Council to examine what the most appropriate role for the body might be,” he said.

Kasoulides said items on the agenda of talks were the international aspects of the Cyprus problem and the issues of security and guarantees, as well as energy, bilateral relations and regional issues.

On the sidelines of the meeting, three bilateral agreements were signed by the two ministers: a ‘strategic agenda’ between Cyprus and France, a memorandum of understanding on education, and a statement of intent on the handling of disasters and emergencies.

Speaking after the signings, Kasoulides said the two countries have many common interests and concerns.

“We value our cooperation with the French government greatly, and especially its traditional support and the keen interest it shows, as a permanent member of the [United Nations’] Security Council, in our efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem,” Kasoulides said.

As partners within the EU, he added, “we exchanged views on key issues, including the EU’s future, Brexit, the migration issue and the European security architecture”.

Additionally, the two ministers exchanged views on regional developments, focusing on the Syrian issue.

Later on Tuesday, Ayrault met Anastasiades and then with Akinci.

No comments were made after either session.

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