WASHINGTON – Declaring that Cyprus is «one country,» the State Department rejected suggestions of a US move toward recognition of the Turkish-Cypriot administration occupying the northern part of the Mediterranean island. «We do not and will not recognize any government other than the Republic of Cyprus on the island of Cyprus,» Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said late on Thursday. «We are clear about this: None of our policies are aimed at or imply ‘creeping recognition’ of any other political entity.» Fried’s remarks were prepared for delivery to the 17th annual Cyprus Conference in Washington. The United States has made several gestures toward the administration in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus since the 2004 referendum on reunification, which was rejected by Greek Cypriots but supported by the Turkish Cypriots in the north. The US moves have triggered speculation about a US «two-Cyprus» policy, but Fried said such suggestions are baseless. «We support a settlement establishing a bizonal, bicommunal federation which will reunify Cyprus and its two communities into one country,» said Fried, who is assistant secretary of state for European affairs. Cypriots, both ethnic Greek and Turkish, will have to make hard choices and decisions on a mutually acceptable deal that majorities in both communities can support if an agreement is to be made, Fried said. One cause for optimism, he said, is that all Cypriots essentially agree that reunification is a desirable goal. «We must not let this moment pass,» he said. «The Republic of Cyprus has an opportunity now that, if lost, may not recur: to join its people together again as Cypriots in a united nation.» As first steps toward reunification, Fried said, the two sides should expand links across the Green Line separating the two ethnic regions. «Likewise, we must promote economic development in every corner of the island to reduce the great economic disparity between the two communities, and thereby facilitate the island’s reunification,» he said.