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Significant crossing opens in Cyprus

April 3, 2008 at 8:08 AM

NICOSIA, Cyprus, April 3 (UPI) -- A politically significant crossing in Nicosia opened Thursday allowing Greek and Turkish Cypriots to travel in the world's only divided capital.

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini called the move "a major step toward healing the divisions on Cyprus," which has been divided since 1974, while Turkey's New Anatolian service quoted a Turkish spokesman as saying "another impediment has been eliminated for the unification of the two sides."

The barrier taken down was in a U.N. buffer zone at what the Greeks call Ledra Street and the Turks Lokmaci Street. At 7 a.m., a brief ceremony was attended by mayors of both sides and U.N. observers, Kathimerini said.

"There is a very positive mood and a palpable sense of momentum here in Cyprus at the moment," said U.N. senior envoy Lynn Pascoe.

The decision to remove the barrier was made March 21 in a meeting between Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

It is the sixth crossing to open on the island since April 2003 when restrictions on Greek Cypriots entering the Turkish-occupied north of the island were lifted, Kathimerini said.

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