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July 27, 2005

U.S. and Cyprus sign ship boarding agreement

The United States and the Republic of Cyprus have signed a reciprocal Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Ship Boarding Agreement. Cypriot Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou signed the agreement on behalf of Cyprus. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed on behalf of the United States.

The Proliferation Security Initiative, announced on May 31, 2003, is aimed at establishing cooperative partnerships worldwide to prevent the flow of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials.

The agreement between the U.S. and Cyprus establishes points of contact and procedures to expedite requests to board and search suspect vessels in international waters. If a U.S.- or Cypriot-flagged vessel is suspected of carrying proliferation-related cargo, either country can request the other to confirm the nationality of the shipand, if needed, to authorize the boarding, search, and possible detention of the vessel and its cargo. The agreement does not apply to the vessels of third states.

Cyprus is the world's sixth largest ship registry by gross tonnage and the first European Union member state to sign a PSI agreement with the U.S. The PSI agreement with Cyprus is the fifth--following ones with Liberia, Panama, the Marshall Islands and Croatia. The combination of states with which the U.S. has boarding agreements and Proliferation Security Initiative partnerships now includes more than 60 percent of world commercial tonnage in deadweight terms.

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