WASHINGTON - US State Department Spokesperson Jennifer Psaki has confirmed the involvement of US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria in efforts to resume negotiations on Cyprus, during her recent visit to the island.
Asked whether, during her visit Nuland negotiated, gave some ideas and apparently broke the deadlock in Cyprus, Psaki replied “well, she did”.
Her comments as President Anastasiades briefed political party leaders on a draft joint communique. Agreement by the two sides on the draft would pave the way for the resumption of UN sponosred peace talks.
She explained that Assistant Secretary Nuland was in Greece and Cyprus over the past couple days and she is now in Ukraine. While she was in Athens, said Psaki, Nuland held productive meetings with the prime minister and foreign minister during which she expressed US support for Greece’s reform efforts and economic growth, bilateral trade and investment, and discussed a range of regional issues.
In Nicosia, the State Department Spokesperson added, Nuland she had meetings with President Nicos Anastasiades and with the Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides. They discussed a range of issues on bilateral relationship, “including steps we can take to deepen our economic relationship”.
Psaki said Nuland also met with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu. “In all her meetings, she reiterated strong US support for the ongoing efforts under UN auspices to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation that would bring security and economic prosperity to all the people of Cyprus. So certainly it was a topic of discussion”, she added.
She noted that as the Assistant Secretary for the region, “this is a priority for her and a priority for the Secretary”. She added that she does not have any update as to whether Nuland gave some ideas and even some proposals.
The latest round of UN backed talks began in 2008 but was suspended in the summer of 2012 by the Turkish side, when the Republic of Cyprus assumed the six month long presidency of the European Council.
During the past weeks the UN have been meeting with the negotiators of the two communities on the island - Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots - with the aim to reach an agreement on a joint statement that would pave the way for the resumption of the talks. In February 2013 Cyprus elected a new President, Nicos Anastasiades, who succeeded Dimitris Christofias.
Invited to comment on the harassment of a Norwegian seismic ship which was conducting seismic survey in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone, by a Turkish military vessel, Psaki said “we support Cyprus’s right to explore for energy in its offshore areas”.
“We continue to believe that the island, oil, and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement”, she said.
Nuland, said Psaki, “conveyed it’s important to avoid actions that may increase tensions in the region”.