#AceWorldNews – NICOSIA – May 21 – Strategic relations between the US and Cyprus, new sanctions and settlement of the crisis on the island are the tasks of US Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit on Wednesday — the first US visit of this kind in the last 52 years.
Explaining the White House’s interest in the small island which is struggling to get out of the economic crisis, a state official said Cyprus could play a major role in ensuring regional peace and said he was satisfied the island supported the EU consensus over sanctions against Russia.
He promised Biden would discuss continuation of the sanction regime in detail with President Nicos Anastasiades.
The US is exerting pressure on Cyprus, which until recently took a more than moderate position on strict economic measures against Russia.
Nicosia supported the first and second phases of the EU sanctions – suspension of visa and cooperation negotiations as well as expansion of the sanction list, yet resists real sanctions bound to affect the economy.
Fox News – Reuters – US Today
#AceWorldNews – NICOSIA – May 20 – A bomb scare at the major airport in Cyprus forced its evacuation on Tuesday, a day before US Vice President Joe Biden visits the Mediterranean island, AFP reported.
Police have evacuated hundreds of passengers and staff from Larnaca International Airport at about 9am (06:00 GMT) after it received a phone call from someone saying a bomb had been planted there.
Bomb disposal experts found nothing suspicious.
The passengers and staff were allowed back into the airport after about 90 minutes.
#AceNewsServices – UNITED NATIONS – May 13 – UN chief Ban Ki-moon named the first ever woman to serve as the head of a UN peacekeeping operation Monday, appointing a Norwegian commander to the UN mission in Cyprus.
Major General Kristin Lund of Norway, 56, will replace outgoing Major General Chao Liu of China in mid-August.
She was also involved in UN missions in Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia.
The UN peacekeeping mission for Cyprus, UNFICYP, was established in 1964 to prevent the recurrence of fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.
A force of 930 soldiers and 66 police patrol the cease-fire lines and buffer zone, undertaking humanitarian activities and supporting the UN mission in general.
The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece.
In 2004, Greek Cypriot voters rejected a UN blueprint to reunify the Mediterranean island at a referendum despite overwhelming acceptance by their Turkish counterparts.
Talks between the two sides under the auspices of the United Nations were largely fruitless and discontinued in 2012, only to resume again in February of this year.
- Danish veteran peacekeepers revisit the Cyprus buffer zone after 50 years(famagusta-gazette.com)
- Norwegian is first woman to head UN peacekeeping force(channelnewsasia.com)
AceBreakingNews – UNITED NATIONS – May 05 – U.N. Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman will arrive in Moscow within several hours for consultations on Ukraine, an informed source in the United Nations told ITAR-TASS on Monday, May 5.
He said Feltman had wound up his mission in Cyprus and was on his way to Moscow.
In Moscow, Feltman will hold meetings with Russian officials.
On May 7-8, he is planning to visit Kiev.
Last week, he said that during his talks in Moscow and Kiev he would seek to convey U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for restraint and immediate resumption of dialogue.
Ban told Agence France Presse earlier on May 5 that he was “ready to play a role” in the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis.
He said he was maintaining contact with all sides involved – Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States – and urged all sides to resolve the issue peacefully.
His deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said Ban’s mediation would be possible only if the sides concerned wished so.
#AceNewsServices – ROME – UNITED NATIONS – May 02 – The United Nations Committee against Torture, which requires nations to come before the panel and defend their human rights records, will put an unlikely subject on its hot seat next week when it calls in the Vatican.
The UN panel, which includes representatives from China, the U.S. and eight other nations, will meet in Geneva and call the Vatican to account for its record on torture and inhumane punishment in a procedure to be aired live on the Internet beginning Monday.
It’s standard procedure for all 155 nations that signed on to the committee’s convention to submit a report and come before the panel, and the Vatican is both a nation-state and a signatory.
Cyprus, Lithuania, Guinea, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Thailand and Uruguay are also scheduled to appear beginning next week.
“The Holy See initiated the procedure by submitting their written report,” Felice Gaer, the U.S. representative and a vice-chair of the committee, told FoxNews.com.
At past sessions, nations that carry out or condone practices universally recognized as inhumane have been forced to defend their records.
The Centre for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has called for the committee to grill the Vatican regarding long-standing allegations of sexual abuse among clergy, contending failures in the Holy See’s response to the scandal amounts to a violation of the convention.
While it is possible the panel will raise long-standing allegations of sexual abuse among clergy, the Vatican report focuses mostly on what the church has and has not done to stop other nations from carrying out human rights violations.
Officials for the Holy See did not immediately return requests for comment.
Ace Related News:
1. Fox – May 03 – http://tinyurl.com/p67fgq3
#AceWorldNews – MOSCOW – April 15 – The French Navy destroyer, Dupleix, is unlikely to enter the Black Sea during the next two days, the Russian Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.
The French anti-submarine frigate was expected to join the country’s vessels in the Black Sea on Monday. However, the French military’s plans changed for some reason, and the ship is still in Limassol, Cyprus, a source in the Russian ministry told ITAR-TASS.
Meanwhile, US destroyer USS Donald Cook and French surveillance ship, Dupuy de Lome, which entered the Black Sea on April 10, are now docked at the Romanian port of Constantsa.
The French rescue ship, FS Alize, which has been in the Black Sea since March 26, has now left, the source said.
#AceBreakingNews The new authorities in Kiev have decided to quit the CIS, the organization of former Soviet Republics, the security chief said. Ukraine is also ready to impose a visa regime with Russia and is to ask the UN to turn Crimea into a demilitarized zone.
The National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine has instructed the Foreign Ministry to introduce visas for Russian citizens entering the country, according to a statement by department secretary Andrey Parubiy.
Russians and Ukrainians have been able to travel freely between the two nations since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian officials have turned back some Russian citizens entering their territory over ostensible concerns that they may take part in protests against the coup-imposed government in Kiev.
Parubiy, who was speaking to the media in Kiev, also said that Ukraine would appeal to the UN to turn Crimea into a demilitarized zone.
Similar UN-mandated zones exist between North and South Korea, and Turkish and Greek Cyprus, as well as in several territories adjacent to Israel.
Russian and Media News Services
#AceWorldNews US Navy SEALs took control of the oil tanker ‘Morning Glory’, which had earlier been seized by three gunmen at a Libyan port, the US Department of Defence said.
The vessel was carrying up to 200,000 barrels of oil, which the Libyan militants presumably wanted to sell at the black market.
The tanker was boarded by the SEALs late Sunday night in international waters south-west of Cyprus.
No one is reported hurt in the operation, which was requested by the Libyan and Cypriot governments and approved by US President Barack Obama.
The vessel is now heading back to Libya, where crucial oil facilities and ports have been under control of anti-government forces.
#AceWorldNews Russian fighter jets have started training exercises over the Mediterranean Sea, the Navy said Friday.
The drills began from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, which docked last month in Cyprus, Navy spokesman Vadim Serga told Interfax.
Training included tactics for engaging aerial targets and other battle techniques.
The aircraft involved in the exercises included Sukhoi SU-33 air defense fighters and Kamov Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopters. The flights will continue if the weather is favourable.
The US Navy earlier sent a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Truxtun, to the Black Sea, and described it as a routine deployment scheduled before the Ukraine crisis.
Officials from the ‘Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ had expected the deadline to be missed.
“We understand that a number of factors have added up which have made the Syrian authorities unable to meet this December 31 deadline – the poor weather in certain parts of Syria is one of these factors and, of course, the volatility of the security situation,” explained OPCWspokesman Christian Chartier.
In a separate development, an anti-President Bashar al-Assad monitoring group based in Britain estimates that at least 130,000 people have been killed in the conflict since it began in March 2011.
- Syria Misses Deadline to Deliver First Tranche of Chemical Weapons to Port of Latakia (matthewaid.com)
- Syria to Miss First Chemical-Weapons Removal Deadline (nationalreview.com)
- Ships waiting to remove Syria’s chemical weapons have returned to port in Cyprus (spyghana.com)
- Removal of chemical weapons from Syria delayed (reuters.com)