New round of Cyprus reunification talks set to go ahead

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have agreed on a roadmap prepared by the UN to resume reunification talks, the Turkish Cypriot leadership said Friday.

"The Greek and Turkish sides in Cyprus have reached an agreement on a common declaration for resuming negotiations,» it said in a statement.

It said the talks were expected to resume next week, although there was no immediate confirmation from the Greek Cypriot side.

Efforts to relaunch UN-brokered talks on ending the four-decade division of the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus gathered pace this week.

Greek and Turkish Cypriots have worked feverishly to finalise a joint declaration that would allow them to restart the negotiations.

The last round of talks was suspended in 2012 when Cyprus took over the rotating presidency of the European Union.

Their resumption was further delayed by the eurozone debt crisis, which forced the Nicosia government to secure a bailout from international creditors last March.

But on Wednesday, Greek Cypriot government spokesman Christos Stylianides said the two sides were close to agreeing on a joint declaration that will pave the way for a new round of talks.

Earlier Friday, Greece gave its backing to the renewed talks, with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras describing them as «one of the leading priorities of Greek foreign policy».

The two sides will «sit around the table and will be responsible for driving the negotiations towards a solution,» he said in Athens after talks with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader.

He added that any proposed solution should be put to a popular referendum to guarantee «the largest national consensus».