UN chief positive on Cyprus talks

Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have made progress in talks aimed at reunifying the divided island and have agreed to intensify their negotiations, but the whole process remains ?very sensitive,? United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday following talks with the two men in Geneva.

Ban described the four hours of talks with Christofias and Eroglu as ?spirited and substantive,? adding that the two leaders had agreed to hold more discussions in the coming weeks. ?I have pledged to make myself available to them again soon to continue taking stock of progress and to encourage the parties in further narrowing the differences,? he said.

The UN chief added that there ?has been progress? since the three men?s last meeting in November but said that more ground needed to be covered. ?Based on discussions today, it is clear that the two leaders worked to move closer together through a range of bridging proposals. Nonetheless, more work must be done to reach further convergences on the outstanding core issues,? the UN chief said.

Neither Christofias nor Eroglu had made any comments about the progress of the talks by late Wednesday night. But Proto Thema newspaper quoted Christofias as saying upon his arrival at the UN offices in Geneva on Wednesday morning: ?We have been dreaming of a reunited Cyprus for 36 years.? The remark was a response to reports that the UN?s special envoy in Nicosia, Alexander Downer, claimed to have dreamt of a united Cyprus on Tuesday night.

The two sides have stepped up their contacts since Ban warned last November that ?serious differences? remain and said the UN might withdraw from its mediatory role if there was no sign of progress.