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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 98-07-11

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, July 11, 1998

Missiles are the only issue

ALL newspapers yesterday led with S-300 missile-related stories. Some focused on the face-saving proposals being made for the missiles' non- deployment.

Phileleftheros said that while London and Washington were upping pressure for the missile deal to be cancelled, the Russian government was expecting a final decision to be taken during President Clerides's visit to Moscow.

The Cyprus government is willing to accept a satisfactory arrangement that will resolve the missile issue either temporarily or for good. However, Nicosia seemed determined to honour its contract with the Russians if the West's reluctance to offer "respectable things in exchange" continued, the paper said.

Haravghi reported that the government spokesman confirmed Clerides had received a letter from US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in which she called for the missile deal to be cancelled.

The US had been exploring several options that would provide Cyprus with the ability to make "a dignified disengagement" from its missile commitment. Albright had suggested the purchase of shorter-range missiles or storing the S-300s in a third country for a period of time.

Machi led with the same story, adding that, instead of guaranteeing a flight exclusion zone over Cyprus (Greece's proposed quid pro quo for scrapping the missile purchase), the US had proposed monitoring Cyprus's air space and publicly reporting any violations.

Turkey rejected the latter proposal. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said he could not accept turning the missiles into an issue for negotiations.

Simerini said both Clerides and the Russians were annoyed by the leak of Albright's letter.

Diplomatic sources told the paper that the US must be very happy about the leak and wondered why the missile issue was allowed to resurface a day before the test-firing of the S-300s was scheduled in Russia.

Only the foreign ministries of Greece, Cyprus and the US knew about Albright's letter. According to the paper, certain circles in the Greek government which are close to the US were trying to prevent the deployment of the missiles.

Alithia reported that the test-firing of the S-300s in Astrakhan, which was attended by Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou, was successful. Both missiles hit their targets, drawing applause from Omirou and Cyprus National Guard officers present.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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