UN's Ban seeks progress in Cyprus talks

7th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

UN chief Ban Ki-moon sought Thursday to jumpstart stalled Cyprus peace talks in a meeting with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

Thursday's UN-backed meeting is the third of its kind, following a similar session in the Swiss city in January and a previous one in New York last November.

But the talks have so far failed to live up to the international optimism that accompanied their launch in September 2008.

There has been no agreement on core issues between the two communities, such as territorial adjustments, security arrangements and property rights in a post-solution federal Cyprus.

UN officials are hoping the Geneva conference will produce a clear roadmap on how the leaders intend to secure a lasting peace by tackling these issues, a source said ahead of the meeting.

Christofias has said the ideal target date for a solution would be before Cyprus takes on the EU presidency in mid-2012, and the UN has said it cannot see talks dragging on beyond then.

"The talks can't go on forever and the UN needs to send out this clear message," a diplomatic source said.

The UN Security Council last month also warned the rival leaders to make progress.

A Council resolution, which extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyrus until the end of the year, expressed concern at the "slow pace of progress."

The peacekeeping mission was set up shortly after communal disturbances broke out in 1963, just three years after the island's independence from Britain. That makes it one of the longest-serving in the world.

The island has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup in Nicosia aimed at union with Greece.

Turkey has no relations with the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government. It is the only government in the world to recognise the breakway state which Turkish Cypriot leaders declared in 1983.

© 2011 AFP

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