NEWS

Clinton backs Talat on efforts for peace

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday expressed her support for a «bizonal, bicommunal» settlement for Cyprus, following talks in Washington with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, whose «courage and wisdom» she praised along with that of Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias. Clinton’s words of encouragement are believed to have been aimed chiefly at bolstering the Turkish-Cypriot leader ahead of tomorrow’s elections in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, which are expected to give a boost to hardliners at the expense of the moderate Talat and the latest peace talks. A statement read out to Greek and Turkish reporters by Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, expressed Clinton’s desire for a speedy solution but ruled out the possibility of Washington appointing an envoy to Nicosia, which Talat is believed to have requested. «The time may come (for a US envoy) but the time is not now. The best solution is one that is made in Cyprus,» Fried said. He added that Clinton «supports the efforts of both sides to build on the momentum and achieve a solution as soon as possible.» The statement relayed by Fried also clarified Washington’s stance opposite the two leaders. «I want to be very clear so there is absolutely no misunderstanding that the United States recognizes only one government in Cyprus, the Republic of Cyprus, although we maintain close relations with the Turkish Cypriots in pursuit of a Cyprus settlement.» Responding to a Turkish journalist’s question about the «isolation» of the Turkish-occupied north of the island, Fried said the US had launched programs «to reach out and work with communities throughout Cyprus.»