New war games freeze

In a move to consolidate continuously improving relations, Greece and Turkey will cancel war games in Cyprus and boost confidence-building measures. During a meeting in New York late on Monday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, agreed to scrap exercises planned for next month. This applies to the Greek and Cypriot «Nikiforos» and «Toxotis» exercises, and Turkey’s «Barbaros» and «Toros» maneuvers. It is the third year running that the war games have been canceled. However, senior Greek diplomatic sources said the overall mood during the meeting was most cordial, and intentions on both sides of the Aegean are sincerely friendly – at least at top level. «At least at the level of prime ministers and foreign ministers, there is a decided political will to continue on a course of cooperation and, above all, trust,» the source told Kathimerini. «Obviously, this does not mean that the thorny bilateral problems have been solved. But it is one thing to have such problems unresolved, and quite another for them to serve as sources of tension.» Tomorrow night, Molyviatis is due to hold talks with his US counterpart, Colin Powell, on terrorism, Cyprus and Turkey’s EU prospects. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry yesterday downplayed the forwarding to the US Congress, by the State Department, of a report on illegal transfers by Greece to Cyprus’s National Guard of US-made weaponry. The move was confirmed late on Thursday by deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, who said Congress had been briefed last week, adding that Greece was not being asked to do anything about the arms transfers. Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said the matter was «of a legal nature,» adding that Cyprus will not be left undefended. One of the terms of US military sales and aid to Greece is that the armaments should not be passed on to Cyprus. Athens has disregarded this, on the basis that Turkish forces in occupied northern Cyprus also use US-made weaponry. «How can the National Guard’s scant weaponry constitute a problem when there is no problem with the great amount of US-made weapons kept by Turkish occupation forces on Cyprus?» Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday.

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