Mine-clearing talks on Cyprus

NICOSIA (AFP) – The Cypriot government said yesterday a UN Mines Action Services (UNMAS) delegation was on the divided island to negotiate clearing thousands of Cypriot army mines inside a UN-manned buffer zone. «A two-member delegation from UNMAS has arrived in Cyprus and… is negotiating with the government on its initiative to demine the ceasefire line,» government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told reporters. UNMAS experts will discuss the practicalities of clearing 11 post-invasion National Guard minefields inside the buffer zone, official sources said. Nicosia decided in late January to unilaterally dispose of its anti-personnel and anti-tank mines dating back to the 1974 Turkish invasion. The Turkish-Cypriot side opted out of allowing demining crews to clear 28 minefields on its side of the ceasefire line. It rejected a UN proposal to rid the entire 180-kilometer-long buffer zone of an estimated 17,000 mines in a total 39 minefields which have been untouched for decades. Partially demining the buffer zone would allow about 8,000 Greek-Cypriot farmers to cultivate fertile land.

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