US in Cyprus visit as peace talks continue

Photo: US in Cyprus visit as peace talks continue / Turkey

U.S. Vice President arrives in Cyprus in first visit by a U.S. official in 52 years as peace talks continue to find a solution to the ongoing stalemate, Anadolu agency reported.

"I am not here to impose a solution, but find one," said the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden after arriving at the Larnaca airport Wednesday.

Biden stressed the importance of the joint statement signed on February 11, which kick-started peace talks between the parties involved after a two-year hiatus.

"Peace is always possible, but it requires engagement not just from leaders but from citizens. In that respect, I am encouraged to hear of the joint initiative from Cypriot political, civic and business leaders," he added.

Biden's visit marked the first in 52 years by a U.S. senior official. He was welcomed by Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Loannis Kasulidis and U.S. envoy to the Greek Cypriot administration, John Koenig.

Biden refuted the rumors that he came to the island "with a plan in his back pocket".

"I would like to put that rumor to rest," he said. "I came here on behalf of the U.S. to help you get a solution, not to present or impose one."

The island of Cyprus has remained divided into Greek and Turkish parts since a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north in 1974.

Two weeks ago the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of violating European human rights agreements, saying that the whereabouts of 1,491 Greek Cypriots is still unknown and 211,000 Greek Cypriots were forced from their homes, following a lawsuit filed in 1994 by the Greek Cypriot administration.

Biden will meet with the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Dervis Eroglu and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiadis during his visit.

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