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Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2006, 16:51 GMT
Turkish Cypriots move to end row
A stretch of Ledra Street with the footbridge next to the UN buffer zone (Green Line)
Turkish Cypriots say the bridge's demolition is a goodwill gesture
Turkish Cypriots say they have begun demolishing a controversial footbridge to try to end a row over the re-opening of a crossing in Nicosia.

The bridge over Ledra Street - a thoroughfare running through the divided capital - was built in 2005.

The move angered Greek Cypriots, who said the bridge encroached into the UN buffer zone separating the two sides.

Greek Cypriots then withdrew their support for the planned re-opening of an official crossing nearby in 2005.

An aide to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said "technical preparations required for the demolition" began on Friday.

He said work was expected to continue and be completed after the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday ends next Wednesday.

Mr Talat has said the bridge was being demolished because it was "claimed to be an obstacle standing before the opening of [the official crossing at] Lokmaci Gate [Ledra Street]".


The United Nations Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) confirmed it had been notified of the move.

"UNFICYP welcomes this positive contribution to efforts to realise the opening of a crossing point at this location," it said in a statement.

Turkish Cypriot officials say they expect Greek Cypriots to respond to a goodwill gesture and dismantle a defensive wall on their end of Ledra Street.

Cyprus was partitioned after a Turkish invasion in 1974, following a Greek-inspired coup.

There are currently five crossing points across the UN buffer zone - the so-called Green Line.

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