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US wants talks in Cyprus to resume, says official (Updated)

Wess Mitchell arriving at the presidential palace on a previous trip to Cyprus

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell stressed on Friday his country’s desire for the resumption of the reunification talks and backed Cyprus’ right to develop its natural resources.

Speaking after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia, Mitchell said the US supports the Republic of Cyprus in its right to develop natural resources, including in the exclusive economic zone.

“I reiterated to the President our appreciation for the strategic partnership that we have with the Republic of Cyprus. I also reiterated our desire to see a resumption of talks and our support for a bizonal bicommunal federation,” the US official said.

Furthermore, he said that he had a warm and engaging conversation with Anastasiades and said that it was important for him to come to Cyprus on one of his first trips after assuming his new duties.

“We are very supportive of the Republic of Cyprus, we appreciate the longstanding friendship that we have and look forward to being back,” he said.

Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said the government is pleased to have US support for a resumption of the settlement talks and the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to explore and exploit its natural resources.

“It was an important and constructive meeting”, he said.

Prodromou said that Anastasiades had the opportunity to reiterate his readiness for the negotiations to continue.

“It is with satisfaction that we heard about the support of the US for the negotiating process within the parameters of the United Nations, and we hope that this support will contribute to the continuation of the negotiations, which is also our goal,” Prodromou said.

He added that bilateral issues were also discussed as were regional developments, since, ‘from the US point of view, Cyprus plays a role in regional security’.

In the afternoon, Mitchell had a meeting with Akinci.

Following the meeting, Akinci reiterated the Turkish Cypriot side’s position that a change in the Greek Cypriots’ approach was important as regards the settlement negotiations to be able to exit the deadlock reached at the talks last summer in Switzerland.

He said he is being blamed lately by the Greek Cypriot side for being unwilling to meet Anastasiades at an informal dinner, but added that unless there is a change in the stance of the Greek Cypriots, his side does not wish to enter a process doomed to end before it even begins.

Akinci also said that during his meeting with the US official, Mitchell heard with due attention the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side.

The Turkish Cypriot leader said that it was unfair that only the Greek Cypriot side possesses the joint state and acts like the sole owner of the island and of its natural wealth.

The current situation, he said, threatens peace at sea, but it is possible for bridges of cooperation to be built between the island’s two communities and also Turkey and Greece.

Instead of causing tensions, he said, it would be beneficial to create cooperation opportunities.

“It is a shame because the Greek Cypriot side sees even the seas as its own, its own area of sovereignty, and they do not even want to discuss this issue with the Turkish Cypriots,” Akinci said.

He added that this behaviour is wrong and, only causes tensions. That is why, he said, it is very important for the Greek Cypriot side to change its mentality.

Akinci also said that the most practical and cheapest way to transfer Cyprus’ and Israel’s natural gas to Europe, was through Turkey, as the pipeline through southern Cyprus to Crete, Greece and Italy is much more expensive, time consuming and passes through deep waters.

He also said that water from Turkey could serve the needs of the entire island and that the electric cable from Turkey could unify Cyprus with the Middle East and Turkey with Europe.

All this however, he said, requires peace, a solution and cooperation.

Mitchell also met later in the day with Foreign Affairs Minister Nicos Christodoulides and discussed the Cyprus issue, energy security, bilateral relations, European and regional issues.



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