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UN office in Cyprus receives contaminated mail

29 January ? The office of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, received a piece of mail from overseas today containing a suspicious white powder.

Security officers from the UN mission in Cyprus were immediately alerted and standard precautionary measures were put into effect, according to a UN spokesman.

The area adjacent to the offices in question was cordoned off and the UN military police unit began an investigation. At the same time, the UN alerted Cyprus government officials.

Tests carried out on samples to determine the exact nature of the powder and whether the substance is dangerous have proved negative. Further tests are being conducted, however, with the outcome of the sampling expected tomorrow.

Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, the meeting today between the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, and Greek Cypriot leader, Glafcos Clerides, was moved from the UN protected area in Nicosia to Ledra Palace, another UN building in the buffer zone between north and south Nicosia.

Some 50 people, UN staff and members of the technical committees, who had been meeting at the Nicosia Conference Centre at the time of the incident, underwent precautionary decontamination procedures.

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