NEWS

Nicosia rules out Afghan meeting

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus said yesterday it would not allow an exiled Afghan politician to hold an opposition meeting on the island to rally support and form a coalition government against the ruling Taleban. Foreign Minister Ioannis Cassoulides said the island did not want to host any event which could be seen as involvement in the internal strife ravaging Afghanistan, or as taking sides. Under the present circumstances, (we) will not encourage any initiatives on (our) soil, Cassoulides told journalists. Cyprus is a small country with its own problems, the problem of (Turkey’s) occupation, and wants to be especially careful. Homayun Jarir, a former foreign minister of Afghanistan, told Reuters on Thursday that he would travel to the island in the coming days in a bid to convene an opposition assembly of Afghan factions, with the ultimate goal of forming a broad-based coalition government. We are trying to create a broad-based government, he said from Tehran, where he currently lives, in a telephone interview. It would help the international community and the United States against the Taleban, and terrorism inside Afghanistan. But Cassoulides said there was an internationally recognized government of Afghanistan based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Members of Afghan tribes have been meeting regularly on the island since 1999, in an effort to reach reconciliation in what has become widely known as the Cyprus Process.