US Vice President Biden in Cyprus 'without a plan'
Ömer Bilge HÜRRİYET / NICOSIA
US Vice President Joe Biden waves as he arrives on May 21 at Larnaca airport in the Cypriot southern port city. AFP PhotoU.S. Vice President Joe Biden said he has no plan for a solution to Cyprus’ 40-year-old division but wants to help prepare one, in his first statement after arriving on the island on May 21.
Biden refuted 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. I’ve traveled to Cyprus today because I believe this time could be different. Whether it will depends on the people of this island.”
Accompanied by his wife and around 300 bodyguards, Biden is expected to travel to northern Cyprus on May 22 to meet Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu.
The crisis in Ukraine will be on the table when Biden meets Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades.
Biden stressed the importance of the joint statement signed on Feb. 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 said.
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.