UN chief meets Cyprus leaders to assess talks

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United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon began a meeting with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on Wednesday, two months after he warned the world body could reconsider its mediation efforts.

A UN source at the meeting in Geneva said Ban would take stock of the talks and try to drive them forward during the meeting with President Demetris Christofias, head of the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government, and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

The world body said the secretary general would make a statement at the conclusion of the meeting at the UN's European headquarters, scheduled to end around 1315 GMT.

The two sides have stepped up their contacts since Ban warned after talks in New York on November 18 that "serious differences" remain.

He said that Wednesday's meeting in Geneva "will help the United Nations to determine its own next steps."

The Mediterranean island split after Turkish troops invaded the northern third of Cyprus in 1974 in response to a Greek-Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece.

Only Turkey recognizes the northern administration and it has kept more than 35,000 troops in the sector.

Last month, the Security Council renewed the mandate of a 927-strong UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus for another six months until June 15, 2011. The force mainly patrols the unofficial border between the two communities.

© 2011 AFP

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