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UN completes safety check of proposed crossing point in Cyprus

26 March 2008 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today completed a sweep for unexploded ordnance in the area of the Ledra Street crossing point in Nicosia, which the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities last week agreed to open as soon as technically possible.

A six-person mine action team carried out the search – which is necessary to secure buildings before the opening of the crossing point – with support from the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and funding from the European Union. No dangerous items were found.

The agreement on opening the crossing point was welcomed earlier this week by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a “positive step forward,” following a meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat last Friday.

At that same meeting, which was hosted by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Michael Møller, the two leaders agreed to start full-fledged negotiations within three months on resolving the long-running dispute on the Mediterranean island.

According to UNFICYP, the advisers to the leaders have agreed, in accordance with the agreement reached last week, to establish, as soon as possible, several specific working groups and technical committees.

Both advisers agreed to establish further working groups and technical committees, as required, to ensure that their respective leaders may be able to negotiate as effectively as possible on the full spectrum of issues to be discussed in Cyprus. The advisers have agreed to meet again on Friday under UN auspices.

The UN’s political chief, B. Lynn Pascoe, is scheduled to go to Cyprus later this month to help the UN determine how it can be as helpful as possible to the success of the process.

Established in March 1964 following the outbreak of inter-community violence in Cyprus, UNFICYP is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to a return to normal conditions and the maintenance of law and order.

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