US VP Joe Biden in Cyprus for talks on peace, Russia

US Vice President Joe Biden flew in to Cyprus today for talks on the divided Mediterranean island`s peace process and Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

Nicosia: US Vice President Joe Biden flew in to Cyprus today for talks on the divided Mediterranean island`s peace process and Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

Biden arrived from Bucharest to tight security marking only the second American vice-presidential visit to Cyprus since Lyndon B Johnson came in 1962, two years after independence from Britain.

He is also expected to discuss Cyprus`s energy sector, as Europe looks to eventual alternative energy sources.
Biden told journalists at the airport it was "long past time... That all Cypriots are reunited in a bizonal, bicommunal federation."

But he added that while he hoped to "help you get a solution," he had not come "to present or impose one." "I`ve travelled to Cyprus today because I believe this time could be different. Whether it will depends on the people of this island."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and seized the northern third of the island after an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.

During his visit, Biden will meet Nicos Anastasiades, president of the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, and Dervis Eroglu, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

But he stressed that Washington recognises only "one legitimate government" in Cyprus, that led by Anastasiades, adding that "my visit and meetings throughout the island will not change that."

After years of deadlock, leaders of both communities vowing to seek an end to the division relaunched negotiations on February 11 after a nearly two-year break.
The Cyprus News Agency has reported Biden will encourage confidence-building measures to bolster the peace process.
These could include allowing experts to enter the Turkish-controlled ghost town of Varosha to prepare a master plan for its revival.

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