US wants to help renew Cyprus talks, says Nicholas Burns

The US has expressed its wish to be part of any fresh effort, under UN leadership, to renew the stalled talks on Cyprus with a view to finding a negotiated settlement, said US Undersecretary at the State Department Nicholas Burns.

He was talking to delegates of the annual meeting of the International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus which is taking place in Washington, DC, this week.

Mr. Burns also stressed that the US cannot give up its efforts to find a solution in Cyprus, noting that both the US Secretary of State and himself have raised this issue with the UN Secretary General, whom they urged to appoint an emissary of the UN to Cyprus.

“We want the United States to be part of an effort to renew the talks aiming at the settlement. We probably might have disagreement with some people with the Annan Plan a couple of years ago. We can write a new chapter, we don’t have to go back to something that was tried and fail,” he added.

Among this year’s main conference themes is religious freedom with the Archons of the Patriarchate also participating.

“But the religious freedom does not exist in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus, in which hundreds of churches have been destroyed and many of them are not allowed to operate. One church got sold, which is a despicable and disgraceful situation in the occupied area, as far as the Turks are concerned,” said a spokesperson for Justice For Cyprus.

“The reason there’s no religious freedom is because you have 40,000 troops occupying the northern part of the island, and that is the crux of the problems of Cyprus. If the occupation troops were not there and if there was indeed freedom of movement and freedom of religion and all the freedoms that we desire, then the problem would have been resolved,” the spokesperson added.

The three-day conference was addressed, among others, by Cyprus Ambassador to the US, Andreas Kakouris and his Greek counterpart Alexandros Mallias.

The delegates also held meetings with members of Congress and 2008 US presidential hopefuls.

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