NEWS

Cyprus leaders agree to resume peace talks

TAGS: Cyprus, Diplomacy

Cypriot leaders agreed at a meeting on Thursday to resume their stalled peace talks on June 8 after President Nicos Anastasiades (photo) had suspended the UN-brokered negotiations.

Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci met at a social function in Nicosia’s UN-patrolled buffer zone and decided to move the peace process forward.

“I had the opportunity on the sidelines of this event to talk with Mr Akinci to arrange a new date for intensive consultations so we can find common ground to reach a desired solution as soon as possible,” Anastasiades told reporters.

Anastasiades called off scheduled talks last week over what he said were attempts to recognise the Turkish-held northern part of the divided island.

It was the first serious hitch since the process begun a year ago and it needed the intervention of UN chief Ban Ki-moon to help mend fences and put the Cyprus talks back on track.

Talks were shelved after Anastasiades snubbed a dinner held for state leaders at a UN-organised humanitarian summit in Istanbul when he found out that Akinci was also invited.

Turkey's last-minute invite to Akinci was seen as a bid to undermine the Greek Cypriot president as head of state and bolster the status of the Turkish-occupied north which only Ankara recognizes.

During his time in Turkey, Akinci also met with Ban on the sidelines of the humanitarian summit.

Nicosia called the events “unacceptable” and criticised UN envoy Espen Barth Eide over his handling of sensitive diplomatic moves.

Many believe the good chemistry between Anastasiades and Akinci can create a climate of trust for a long elusive deal to be reached.

The latest round of UN-brokered talks, seen as the last best chance to reunify Cyprus after four decades of division, were launched in May 2015.

Both leaders have expressed the hope that a settlement can be reached this year but the latest incident has soured the climate.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

[AFP]

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