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Unficyp’s mandate must remain unchanged, says defence minister

Defence Minister Savvas Angelides

Unficyp`s presence on the island and the resumption of the UN-backed talks are two separate things and must not be confused, Defence Minister Savvas Angelides said in New York.

Angelides is in NYC where on Friday he addressed the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference on Uniformed Capabilities, Performance and Protection.

On the sidelines, he met with officials from countries with forces in Unficyp, namely Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, and the permanent representatives of China, Russia, Argentina, Peru and Serbia.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, the minister pointed out that in all his meetings so far, he has made clear that the government did not want the continuation of the current status quo on the island but until the resumption of the talks, the mandate of the peacekeeping mission cannot be changed.

Angelides said that this message was understood, adding that the same message will be conveyed to the contacts he will have on Monday with the UN top officials.

On Monday, Angelides is set to meet with Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary General for the United Nations Department of Field Support, Atul Khare and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Miroslav Jenka. He will also be received by Archbishop Demetrios, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

On Sunday, the minister will address an event to commemorate the start of the Eoka uprising against the British colonial administration in 1955.

Angelides also expressed his gratitude to his Greek counterpart Evangelos Apostolakis for his strong support on the Unficyp issue and its mandate during his speech to the UN and during his meetings with high ranking officials.

Angelides held talks with Apostolakis and the two met with the Armenian defence minister.

He said Cyprus, Greece and Armenia have close ties and share the same values as regards issues of security and defense.

Of developments regarding the US lifting its arms embargo, Angelides said that all steps are being taken towards this end and also on strengthening the US-Cyprus ties on security matters.

He said next week a military attaché will be stationed at the Cyprus Embassy in Washington.

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