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Secretary-General recommends six-month extension of UN force in Cyprus

Secretary-General recommends six-month extension of UN force in Cyprus

Calling the presence of United Nations troops in Cyprus "essential" to maintaining the ceasefire on the divided island, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended a six-month extension of the UN peacekeeping force there.

In a just-released report to the Security Council, Mr. Annan says that the situation in Cyprus has been generally stable over the past six months. "The military situation along the ceasefire line remained calm," he notes, with the exception of "small incidents" such as verbal abuse and stone throwing.

At the same time, the Secretary-General reports that the conditions facing the UN Interim Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), "remained difficult, owing to the restrictions imposed on it by the Turkish Cypriot authorities and Turkish forces." In particular, he cites the situation in Strovilia, a small hamlet inhabited by Greek Cypriots where UNFICYP's work has been constrained since July 2000. Along the nearby Famagusta-Dherinia road, peacekeepers are also facing restrictions which prevent them from monitoring a fenced area called Varosha.

"These restrictions remained in force despite efforts to have them lifted and to have the military status quo ante at Strovilia restored," Mr. Annan writes.

Concerning his mission of good offices, the Secretary-General observes that his Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, had met separately in January with Mr. Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Rauf Denktash.

"Mr. Denktash asked that no date for proximity talks be set," the Secretary-General writes. "It has not proved possible to resume talks during the reporting period."

Meanwhile, Mr. de Soto "is proceeding with preparations and consultations so as to be of assistance to the parties at the appropriate time."

The Security Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General's recommendations on Monday, 11 June.