Cyprus searches suspected Hamas-arms ship
By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS,Associated Press Writer AP - Saturday, January 31
NICOSIA, Cyprus - Cypriot authorities on Friday searched a cargo ship suspected by the United States of carrying Iranian arms to Hamas militants in Gaza.
Officials refused to divulge any details about the ship or its cargo.
The Cypriot-flagged container ship Monchegorsk is anchored off the island's southern port of Limassol, where it arrived Thursday after a stop in Port Said, Egypt. The U.S. military stopped the vessel in the Red Sea last week, but allowed it to continue because the U.S. could not legally stop its journey or seize its cargo.
Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias said the ship had violated U.N. resolutions. But he gave no details, saying only that the ship was being searched.
"We're handling this responsibly, I can't at this time make any remarks that ... may create more problems," Christofias said.
He added: "We are investigating what it's carrying and I've told you that we must handle these things very responsibly and very seriously and without a lot of clamor in the media."
Israel launched a 22-day offensive late last month on Hamas-controlled Gaza to try to end rocket fire on Israeli civilians and halt arms smuggling that has enabled Hamas to threaten southern Israel.
Cyprus' Parliament Speaker Marios Garoyian described issues raised by ship as "very sensitive."
"Our aim is to resolve the matter in the best possible way without harming the interests of the Republic of Cyprus ... The less that is said the better."
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