- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006

Northern Cyprus helps

The breakaway state of Northern Cyprus is doing its part to help evacuate foreigners from Lebanon, according to the Washington spokesman for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Osman Ertug said the Turkish-Cypriot role has been ignored in many reports about the evacuation from the divided Mediterranean island. Most news stories have focused on the effort of the Greek-Cypriot government to assist with the evacuation. The Greek-Cypriot authority is the internationally recognized government of the entire island, while only Turkey has diplomatic relations with the Turkish-Cypriot government.

“Several Turkish-Cypriot-owned ships have been shuttling between the Turkish port of Mersin, the Turkish-Cypriot port of Famagusta and Beirut, carrying hundreds of Swedish, Canadians and other foreign nationals fleeing the fighting,” Mr. Ertug said.

He said his government has agreed to funnel 13,000 more evacuees through the Turkish-Cypriot port, where the boats are refueled before sailing to Turkey and where passengers can make flight connections to return home.

He complained, however, that the boats would not have to sail to Turkey if the Greek-Cypriot government would allow them access to the Larnaca airport.

“The evacuation of foreign nationals through the north is impeded only by the refusal of the Greek-Cypriot authorities to allow the evacuees to be flown out of Larnaca airport in the south on political grounds,” Mr. Ertug said.

“This is a time to put all politics aside and cooperate with each other on this humanitarian matter, affecting our entire area and beyond.”

The Turkish-Cypriot newspaper Kibris reported that six ships owned by a Turkish-Cypriot businessman evacuated 1,102 Canadians and Swedes last week. The boats were leased to the Canadian government for the rescue operations, the newspaper said.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Mexican Health Minister Julio Frenk; Peter Piot, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; Onno Schellekens, managing director of the Netherlands-based PharmAccess; Teresa Tono, minister for social protection of Colombia; and Jacques Van Der Gaag of the University of Amsterdam. They address a three-day Brookings Institution conference on financing global health.

• Muhammed Salih, founder of the National Salvation Committee of Uzbekistan, who discusses political conditions in Uzbekistan in a forum hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

• Pakistani Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan, who addresses the Institute for International Economics on free trade with the United States.

Tomorrow

• Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who meets with President Bush. On Wednesday, he addresses a joint session of Congress.

• Struan Stevenson, a member of the European Parliament from Scotland and co-chairman of Friends of a Free Iran. He participates in a forum on the role of women in promoting democracy in the Middle East. The forum from 2:30 to 5 p.m. will be held in Room 345 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Wednesday

• Romanian President Traian Basescu, who meets with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and members of Congress. He meets with President Bush on Thursday.

• Soli Ozel of Istanbul Bilgi University and Hadi Semati of Tehran University, who participate in a briefing on the Middle East at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Friday

• British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who meets with President Bush.

• Lt. Gen. Nasier Abadi, deputy commander of the Iraq Joint Forces, who addresses the United States Institute of Peace on Iraqi military progress toward replacing U.S.-led coalition forces.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.


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