US says UNFICYP vital for Cyprus peace

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It is vital that the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is allowed to conduct its mandate on both sides of the Green Line, warned the US State Department.

It said UN peacemakers needed to conduct their mission throughout the divided island, as sanctioned by the UN Security Council, while reiterating the US position for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal settlement to the Cyprus problem.

A State Department official was responding to a question from the Athens News Agency on the ultimatum of the Turkish Cypriot side that the UN sign a separate status of forces agreement (SOFA) with the breakaway north or be kicked out.

“The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus plays a critical stabilising role, and it is vital that it is able to fulfil its mission throughout the island, as authorised by the UN Security Council, to cooperate with the parties to the conflict in Cyprus and to create political space towards resolution,” the official said.

The representative said the US “supports a comprehensive settlement under the leadership of the United Nations for the reunification of the island on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, which would benefit all Cypriots as well as the wider region.”

UNFICYP comprising military and civilian personnel from various contributing countries, arrived in Cyprus in March 1964 after intercommunal fighting broke out.

The force’s mandate is renewed every six months by the Security Council.