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Cyprus\'s Papadopoulous protested the US delegation\'s arrival

   
InternationalA US congressional board of delegation arrived at northern Cyprus on Monday despite Greek Cypriot warnings against using an \"illegal\" airport.
The three-member delegation held a joint press conference with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Ed Whitfield, head of the board and Turkish-US Caucus Co-Chair Congressman, said, \"This is a symbolic gesture and sometimes symbolic gestures are very important.

\"We have come to northern Cyprus because we support the free movement of people and goods throughout all of Cyprus, both north and south\", said Egemen Bagis, Republican from Kentucky and vice president of a Turkish-US friendship group.
The group flew to the Ercan airport in northern Nicosia from Istanbul on a Cyprus Turkish Airlines flight.

Foreign delegations often use the airport in southern Cyprus even when they go to meet Turkish Cypriot officials.

Southern Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulous had protested the US delegation\'s arrival last week by saying, \"The visit by the congress members using Ercan airport contravenes not only international law, but also US law\".

On the other hand, Talat said, \"The delegation has shown admirable determination in resisting all the pressures on them to cancel the trip\".

\"If the international community shows the determination you have shown to end the unjust isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, then the process of integration of the Turkish Cypriots into the international system will finally begin.

\"Then and only then will we be able to move into meaningful negotiations\", Talat said.

The US plan calling for an easing of the Turkish Cypriots\' isolation to reward them for their acceptance in an April 2004 referendum of a UN peace plan for the divided island was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriots in a separate referendum. And then the Turkish Cypriots were left out in the cold when the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus (south of the island) joined the EU on May 1, 2004.

Whitfield and his team are due to hold talks with the Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer as well as President Talat during their two-day visit.
  

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