Cyprus condemns US remark

Cyprus struck out at Washington yesterday after the US Embassy in Nicosia claimed that President Tassos Papadopoulos had «misled» the public over US comments regarding a stalled plan to reopen a commercial street that runs through Nicosia’s buffer zone. «President Papadopoulos has implied that the United States – alone among members of the Security Council – has refused to condemn construction activities… as an encroachment of the buffer zone. That statement is misleading,» the US Embassy statement said on Thursday. Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides described the statement as «unacceptable» and defended Papadopoulos’s observation as «absolutely accurate.» The Cypriot government on Monday withdrew its consent from plans to reopen the shopping street, claiming that Turkish forces had breached the UN-monitored ceasefire line by starting construction on an elevated walkway. Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iakovou said that Nicosia may appeal to the Security Council over breaches by Turkish troops in the buffer zone. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that progress toward reunifying Cyprus was «negligible at best» in a report to the Security Council yesterday. Annan recommended that the UN peacekeeping force be kept on the island until at least June next year. Annan accused the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot sides of using the opening of checkpoints as an opportunity to each «alter the status quo to its advantage, whether in the form of new construction or incursions of personnel into the buffer zone.» Annan said he did not believe that the time was right to send a full-time representative to Cyprus until conditions for talks were clarified.