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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-04-04

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias is interrupting his London visit and returns home Friday afternoon two days earlier than scheduled, due to the problems that arose in the opening of Ledra Street.

    Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, in a written statement said that due to the violations on the part of the (Turkish) occupation army of the agreement for the opening of Ledra Street and the problems caused last night, the President of the Republic considers it advisable to return to Cyprus to monitor and handle the situation at close.

    Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou will remain in Great Britain to represent President Christofias at the round table discussion on progressive administration and to hold contacts with the British Foreign Office.

    The Presidents decision was also announced by the director of his office, Vasos Georgiou, who said that the President of the Republics decision is that Ledra Street checkpoint should remain open as long as the agreement is being maintained.

    President Christofias went to London on Thursday to attend a round table discussion hosted by the British Prime Minister for leaders of left-centre parties. He was due to return home Sunday after addressing a special gathering of Cypriots living in the UK on Saturday night.

    The Cyprus government decided Thursday evening to close the newly opened Ledra Street crossing point due to a breach of the agreement regarding the opening of Ledra by the Turkish occupation regime.

    However, the crossing point re-opened in the early hours.

    The closing occurred just 11 hours after Ledra Street was opened earlier in the morning.

    The newly opened crossing point closed because a number of uniformed Turkish Cypriot so-called policemen were seen in the buffer zone, in violation of the agreement reached between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities.

    The President said that difficulties may arise again but we are determined to address them and I hope and wish that the things that have been agreed will be followed.

    He noted that right now the focus must be on the positive elements, such as the opening of Ledra street. Credit must be given to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat for todays development, which the international community has described as historic, he added.

    We are reserved. We believe this is an important development in our effort and it affects Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. We are talking about the heart of Nicosia and we appreciate that the next step will be demanning across the old city of Nicosia as well as the opening of crossing point at Limnitis, he said.

    Asked whether the opening of Ledra street is the first step for the opening of other crossing points, Christofias said that this is how we see it and added that during his meeting with Talat on March 21 we both tackled it in this way.

    Responding to questions, he said our priority in the coming days is to see the working groups and the technical committees begin their work

    He also said that he may have a meeting with Talat before any results emerge from the work of the committees.

    Christofias, who returns to Cyprus on Sunday, will address a special gathering of Cypriots living in the UK on Saturday night.


    Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has expressed satisfaction over the first day of his contacts in Washington.

    Kyprianou who arrived in the US capital on Wednesday, met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, Joe Biden, Senator Robert Menendez and Congresswoman Olympia Snowe. All members of congress expressed interest over the latest Cyprus developments and offered to help in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

    He also met Congressman Frank Pallone, who said the US should persuade Turkey to help the Cyprus procedure, as well as John Sarbanes, Patrick Kennedy and Costas Bilirakis.

    Kyprianous contacts on Friday include a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte who replaces Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other US officials.


    Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides has told CNA that the second licensing round to search and exploit possible hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus exclusive economic zone will take place in September, in spite of developments in the efforts to bring about a political settlement in Cyprus.

    ``There is no reason to postpone the second licensing round due to anticipated developments in the Cyprus problem,`` Paschalides said in an interview with CNA on the occasion of his appointment as Minister of Commerce, pointing out that possible hydrocarbon exploitation does not concern the Cyprus problem.

    Nicosia believes that hydrocarbon exploitation will prove beneficial for all the inhabitants of the island, the Minister added.

    The first licensing round concerns eleven blocks. Paschalides said that the results of the first round will be announced between April and May.

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