War games decision welcomed

The United States yesterday expressed satisfaction with Thursday’s decision by Greece and Turkey to cancel scheduled military exercises on and around Cyprus, as Athens denied it had kept Nicosia in the dark on the matter. «This is a good thing,» State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. «We think the decision contributes to building a positive atmosphere for reaching a comprehensive Cyprus settlement and stability in the Aegean region.» It is the third year in a row that the exercises – scheduled for later this month – are being canceled. Announcing the decision in Antalya together with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the move followed «the spirit of the 2004 Athens Olympics.» Yesterday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that throughout the negotiations with Turkey, Athens had kept Nicosia fully informed. He said claims to the contrary aired in Cyprus «have more to do with Cyprus’s internal affairs and opposition policies toward the government… than with reality.»