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Turkish Cypriot side angered that Pompeo not meeting Akinci

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said it was wrong of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to not meet with him during his visit to Cyprus on Saturday.

According to Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu, the Turkish Cypriot leader told the US ambassador Judith Garber over the phone that Pompeo should have sought a meeting with him, just as former secretary of state John Kerry did during his visit to the island in late 2015.

Burcu said the ambassador offered Akinci a phone call with Pompeo but the former rejected the option as it was ‘insufficient and inappropriate’.  Garber told Akinci, Pompeo would be unable to meet with him due to time constraints, Burcu said.

“The problems in the Eastern Mediterranean cannot be helped by only receiving meeting with the Greek Cypriot side and obtaining unilateral information,” Burcu added.

Akinci was also sidelined by top EU diplomatic envoy Josep Borrell during his visit to Cyprus in June.  The Turkish Cypriot leader also expressed his dissatisfaction at the time over a phone call he had with Borrell, following the visit.

Pompeo will meet President Nicos Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides Saturday night. The agenda of the talks will include Turkish provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean, the enhancement of Cyprus-US relations and the Cyprus problem. Nicosia describes the visit as significant, taking into account broader ongoing developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Pompeo is coming to Cyprus from Doha. In statements to the media, Pompeo said that he was visiting Cyprus to seek a peaceful solution to mounting Mediterranean tensions and called on Turkey to pull back its forces.

The dispute “has to be resolved in a way that’s diplomatic and peaceful,” Pompeo told reporters. “So, I’ll be working on that project as well, trying to make sure that I understand the risks that are associated from the people of Cyprus’ perspective,” he said.

Pompeo expressed hope that “there will be real conversations” and that “the military assets that are there will be withdrawn so that these conversations can take place.”

Anastasiades and Pompeo are expected to make statements to the media after their talks.

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