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US Congress receives Trump’s bi-monthly report on progress toward a negotiated Cyprus solution

US President Donald Trump has submitted to the Members of the Congress his Bi-monthly Congressional Report on progress toward a negotiated solution of the Cyprus question covering the period February 1, 2019 through March 31, 2019.

According to the report, on February 1, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell called Republic of Cyprus (ROC) Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides to discuss with the ROC the U.S. explanation of vote during the UN Security Council vote to renew the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) on January 30.

“Mitchell affirmed U.S. peacekeeping principles and encouraged both sides to improve bi-communal relations,”  the report says.

Furthermore, on February 4, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elisabeth Millard met with UN Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca to express continued U.S. support for senior UN official Jane Holl Lute`s role in facilitating a resumption of negotiations and to reaffirm U.S. efforts to encourage both sides to actively, constructively, and urgently engage with her.

In the report it is stated that on February 3 and 4, senior UN official Jane Holl Lute met separately with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades in an attempt to facilitate discussion between them and come to agreement on “terms of reference” to resume negotiations.

On February 5, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Ankara to discuss their respective positions on settlement and agreed a series of meetings should be scheduled prior to the resumption of negotiations to set clear positions and a joint road map.

Furthermore, on February 6, ROC President Anastasiades held a telephone conversation with Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci and agreed to meet in the second half of February. No exact date was announced.

The report states that on February 22, ROC Government Spokesman Prodromou said President Anastasiades expects the exact proposal of UN Secretary-General Guterres, as it was clarified on July 4, 2017, to be included in the Terms of Reference facilitated by senior UN official Jane Holl Lute.

The Bi-monthly Congressional Report adds that on February 26, the UN Secretary-General`s Special Representative (SRSG) of UNFICYP and deputy to the Secretary-General’s advisor on Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, hosted an informal meeting with the two Cypriot leaders at the Chief of Mission’s Residence in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia.

At the meeting, the report says, “both leaders shared positions on key matters, identified outstanding issues to be resolved, and agreed to implement important confidence building measures for the benefit of both communities.”

On February 27, the Security Council issued a press statement welcoming the meeting of the two leaders and the progress made on confidence-building measures, while encouraging the leaders to continue their efforts in line with resolution 2453 (2019).

On March 11, senior UN official Jane Holl Lute concluded her rounds of contacts with the guarantor powers United Kingdom, Greece, and Turkey when she met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Antalya to discuss options for a permanent settlement in Cyprus. In addition, on March 19, a bi-communal soccer match was held at the village of Pyla. “President Anastasiades was present while Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci did not attend, saying the game took place on the Greek Cypriot side of the village,” the report says.

On March 21, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Greek counterpart, Giorgos Katrougalos, in Antalya, where they discussed the Cyprus problem and agreed to meet on April 12 to discuss the international aspects of the issue and confidence building measures and to evaluate where the two sides stand on the Cyprus problem.

On March 26, Under Secretary David Hale met with Republic of Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides to reaffirm the longstanding U.S. policy on resources in the Republic of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone and to discuss U.S. support for the Cypriot-led, UN-facilitated efforts to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, which would benefit all Cypriots.

On March 27, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary Philip Reeker met with Republic of Cyprus Ambassador to the United States Marios Lysiotis to reiterate the need for both sides to improve bi-communal relations and reaffirm the U.S. belief that a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation offers the best chance for the people of Cyprus to achieve long term sustainable peace and prosperity, the report concludes.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, ended inconclusively.

UNSG Envoy Lute arrived earlier this month in Cyprus, in an effort to conclude the terms of reference that would pave the way for the resumption of settlement talks. After six rounds of separate meetings with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci – and a social gathering in the presence of the two leaders, she departed without the task being accomplished.

(Cyprus News Agency)

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