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Biden in Cyprus for talks on peace, Russia

US Vice President Joe Biden gives a statement to the media in front of Air Force Two, after he arrives in Larnaca international airport, Cyprus, on Wednesday.

US Vice President Joe Biden flew in to Cyprus on Wednesday for talks on the divided islands peace process and on Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

Biden, who arrived from Bucharest, told journalists it was "long past time... that all Cypriots are reunited in a bizonal, bicommunal federation."

But he added that while he hoped to "help you get a solution," he had not come "to present or impose one."

"I've travelled to Cyprus today because I believe this time could be different. Whether it will depends on the people of this island."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and seized the northern third of the island after an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.

During his visit, Biden will meet Nicos Anastasiades, president of the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, and Dervis Eroglu, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

But he stressed that Washington recognises only "one legitimate government" in Cyprus, that led by Anastasiades, adding that "my visit and meetings throughout the island will not change that."

Turning to the question of Ukraine, he said only that Anastasiades "and I will discuss events" there. "We have to be resolute and united in the face of Russian intervention."

The issue of harsher EU sanctions against Moscow is highly sensitive in Nicosia, where Russian investors have deposits worth billions of dollars (euros) in Cypriot banks.

The vice president, who did not take questions, left the airport for his hotel in the nearby city of Limassol. He is to travel to Nicosia on Thursday. [AFP]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday May 21, 2014 (20:54)  
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