President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias on Saturday reiterated his country’s support for India’s claim for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Christofias said this at a meeting he had with visiting Indian President Pratibha Patil. Ms. Patil in turn assured the Cypriot President that India stood for the “independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus.” Ms. Patil, the first Indian President to visit Cyprus in 21 years, said this in the context of Cyprus losing a third of its territory to Turkey following a military intervention by the latter in 1974.

The “Cyprus problem” as the Cyprus-Turkey conflict has come to be known, has been the subject of several peace attempts by the United Nations, the most famous of them being the Kofi Annan Plan of 2002. Though Cyprus’ rejection of the plan was condemned worldwide, India has consistently maintained that Cyprus was within its rights to exercise its democratic choice. At Saturday’s meeting, Ms. Patil said she wished Cyprus success with resolving the “Cyprus problem” in accordance with the wishes of its people.

Both Presidents jointly went down memory lane and recalled their respective struggles to gain freedom from the British rule. “The founders of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Archbishop Makarios shared a vision of a just world and bonds of personal friendship with each other.”

Ms. Patil noted that this “friendship continued between President Syprios Kyprianou and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, whose 25th death anniversary is being observed today.”

Ms. Patil described the economic development of Cyprus as a “true success story.” A tiny country with a population of 8,00,000, Cyprus has been registering a growth rate of 3.6 per cent and boasts a per capita income of $28,000 in 2008.

The Cypriot president also brought up this aspect in his interaction, noting that as a banking and financial services provision centre, Cyprus had the potential to become an important source for channelling foreign investments into the “rapidly developing Indian economy.”

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