Kerry seeks to thaw 'frozen' Cyprus stalemate
US Secretary of State John Kerry called for greater efforts to "unfreeze" decades of tense stalemate between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, after meeting with the divided island's foreign minister.
"The United States supports a bizonal, bicommunal federation. We would like to see us unfreeze this conflict and be able to move to a resolution," the top US diplomat told reporters.
"We also look forward to working with the foreign minister, and with President (Nicos) Anastasiades and others to try to move Cyprus forward on one of the world's frozen conflicts."
Kerry said he already has broached the subject of talks to break the stalemate "several times" with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, as well as with the Cypriot president.
During talks with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, the pair broached the subject of unifying the Mediterranean island under the auspices of the UN Good Offices mission led by Alexander Downer, deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
Kerry "expressed US support for efforts to restore the Cypriot economy to a path of stability and growth, and they also talked about energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and other issues," the spokesman added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, after Turkey invaded the northern third of the island following a military coup by Greek Cypriot nationalists backed by Athens and seeking to unite Cyprus with Greece.
Kasoulides said that talks on the future of the divided island should be raised "not in isolation but... in the wider picture of the eastern Mediterranean.
"We want to be and play the role of stability in this region and work with all the neighbors and with the United States," he added.
Kasoulides said the four-decade-long stalemate over Cyprus's unresolved status "is an open wound, and it's bleeding to have to have one's country divided."
The proposed efforts to achieve a breakthrough in Cyprus comes with the island's economy suffering following the collapse of the Greek economy.
The European Commission and the European Central Bank warned that a contraction in Cyprus's economy could result in the nation's troubled banks requiring additional financial help, and warned of several tough economic years ahead.
Meanwhile, Eurozone finance ministers met in Dublin to consider a $13 billion bailout deal Cyprus agreed to last month with international lenders.
The bailout is meant to rescue Cypriot banks, which have taken enormous losses on bad Greek debt investments.
Kerry said Friday that Washington hoped to be "helpful" as the island recovers from its economic problems.
"I know that Cyprus, as everybody does, has been struggling with very, very deep economic challenges," he said.
"We are very understanding of the difficult choices that you've had to make and the challenges that you face... We certainly want to be helpful in ways that we can be."