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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-02-03

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    The United Nations are pulling out of Egypt and, at Larnaca Airport, in Cyprus, the UN peacekeeping force is creating an airlift to evacuate Egypt.

    Four planes are expected to land at Larnaca Airport later on Thursday, transporting 148 passengers each.

    On Thursday morning, Communications Manager for Hermes Airports Adamos Aspris confirmed reports that the UN had requested the assistance of the Republic of Cyprus and the airport to withdraw members of the force from Egypt.

    ``Indeed, based on the information we have, it appears that the UN will try to create an air lift today between Larnaca and Cairo,`` Aspris said.

    He added that ``two planes will fly to the Egyptian capital, completely empty, will pick up 148 persons each, and will depart for Cyprus,`` adding that, ``if the operation runs smoothly and without delays, the first plane is expected to land at 1300 local time, and the second at 1415 local time.``

    Within one-and-a-half hours, the two planes will refuel and take off for Cairo, again completely empty, to pick up another 296 persons between them.

    One of the two planes to be used for the operation arrived in Larnaca on Wednesday night.

    Aspris said a UN unit was expected in Larnaca to receive and record the UN members to arrive in Cyprus from Egypt.


    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, namely President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, will be meeting on February 9 in the context of UN-led talks for a solution of the Cyprus meeting.

    This will be their first meeting since they met in Geneva on January 26 with the UN Secretary General.

    The representatives of the leaders of the two communities, George Iacovou and Kudret Ozersay, will be meeting on Friday in view of the meeting of February 9.

    After the Geneva meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had said that the two sides agreed to intensify negotiations with additional meetings over the coming weeks.

    He also said that he would be at their disposal to review progress and to encourage them to bridge their differences.


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias will visit Greece on Thursday to meet with the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

    The meeting will take place in the context of close coordination and cooperation between the two governments on the Cyprus issue and other issues of mutual interest.

    The meeting is taking place following the Geneva meeting of President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, in the framework of a process aiming at reaching a solution of the Cyprus problem.


    British Minister for Europe David Lidington has described the interruption of the Christmas Day liturgy in Risokarpaso, in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, as ``deeply regrettable.``

    He also pointed out that any candidate country that wants EU membership has to apply the democratic values that are central to the European Union, including the freedom to express religion and to worship freely.

    Lidington`s remarks came during Foreign and Commonwealth questions in the British Parliament when Conservative MP, Mike Freer, asked on what discussions the Minister has had with his EU counterparts on the disruption of a Christmas day service in Rizokarpaso, Cyprus.

    Responding, Lidington said they have not had discussions in an EU context ``on this deeply regrettable incident,`` adding ``my officials in Nicosia have met (the Primate of the Cypriot Church) Archbishop Chrysostomos and made representations to senior political figures in the north of the island to emphasise the importance that we accord to allowing people in all parts of Cyprus to practise their religion freely.``

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