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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 23, 1998


The United States remains deeply committed to finding a viable solution to the Cyprus problem. A political settlement that would put an end to the tragic division of Cyprus has been, and continues to be, a high priority of my administration.

The United States strongly supports UN Secretary General Annan's September 30, 1998 initiative to reduce tensions and promote progress toward a just and lasting settlement on Cyprus. The Security Council has adopted UNSCR 1218 endorsing Secretary General Annan's initiative and requesting him to intensify his efforts to achieve specific objectives to reduce tensions and promote a comprehensive settlement to this longstanding dispute.

The United States wholeheartedly supports this resolution. We will take all necessary steps to support a sustained effort to implement UNSCR 1218.

I am encouraged by the cooperation and engagement demonstrated by the two sides thus far in working with the UN. I believe 1999 can offer significant opportunities to achieve progress toward a Cyprus settlement that will meet the concerns of the parties involved. The Secretary General's ongoing initiative is critically important to making those opportunities a reality.

Just as the international community is stepping up its efforts on Cyprus through the UN, it is important for the Cypriots themselves to support those efforts. I urge all the parties to avoid taking any steps that could increase tensions on the island, including the expansion of military forces and armaments. This will make possible the significant efforts that I and others want to make in order to promote substantial progress toward a political settlement of the Cyprus problem in 1999.