US vice president to visit Nicosia for Cyprus talks
Ömer BİLGE HÜRRİYET/NICOSIA
Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Nicosia will mark Washington’s highest-level visit to the island in 52 years. AP PhotoU.S. Vice President Joe Biden is set to visit Cyprus later this month to participate in the ongoing negotiations for the reunification of the island.
The trip, set for May 21-23 according to both Turkish and Greek Cypriot sources, will mark Washington’s highest-level visit to the island in 52 years.
Biden, who is expected to be accompanied by a large delegation of bureaucrats, will hold separate meetings with the Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu, pushing for a solution to the crisis that has gripped the island for half a century. Biden is also expected to tackle the thorny issue of the natural gas reserves found off the island’s east coast.
The visit comes as both Anastasiades and Eroğlu have pledged their determination to find a solution in separate statements. The two held their first meeting in early February and issued a joint declaration outlining the way forward for a solution after an almost two-year-long hiatus in the negotiations.
Negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis for the Greek Cypriots and Kudret Özersay for the Turkish Cypriots made reciprocal visits to Ankara and Athens in February.
The last high-level visit to Cyprus from Washington was made in 1962 by Lyndon Johnson, when he was the vice president in the Kennedy administration.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig said one of the options for the natural gas found off the island was to transport it to Europe via a pipeline crossing Turkey.
In an interview with the Greek Cypriot daily Philephteros, Koenig said the U.S. could assist both parties, particularly on security, adding that the U.S. was ready to provide security assistance if both communities made such a demand.