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Length of U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cyprus extended

Thursday, June 12, 2003

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council extended the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cyprus for six months on Wednesday and added 34 police to deal with the increasing travel between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides of the divided island.

Cyprus has been split into a Greek Cypriot-controlled south and a Turkish-occupied north since Turkey invaded in 1974 after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The breakaway Turkish Cypriot state is recognized only by Turkey, which maintains 40,000 troops there.

The council resolution adopted unanimously on Wednesday extends the mandate of the nearly 1,230-strong U.N. peacekeeping force monitoring a cease-fire between the two sides for another six months until Dec. 15.

It authorized up to 34 additional U.N. civilian police because of the increased workload since the easing of restrictions on island-wide freedom of movement. The U.N. force currently has a 35-member international police contingent.

On April 23, the Turkish Cypriot leadership opened several crossing points to Greek Cypriots for the first time since the Turkish invasion in September 1974 drove Turkish and Greek Cypriots to opposite sides of the island.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed the partial easing of the travel ban but says it is no substitute for a political settlement.

Reunification talks based on a peace plan put forward by Annan collapsed in the Netherlands in March when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejected Annan's blueprint.

Annan's plan envisioned the reunification of Cyprus as a single state with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sections linked through a weak central government.

The secretary-general had been trying to get Greek and Turkish Cypriots to agree to the plan so that a united Cyprus could sign a treaty to join the European Union next year.

Annan has said he will not embark on any new initiative until both parties display the political will to resolve the conflict.


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