NEWS

UN Cyprus talks said to yield no result

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on Tuesday wrapped up two days of UN-mediated talks on reuniting their ethnically divided island but a Greek Cypriot source said there had been no concrete results.

Hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, representing the Greek Cypriots, and Dervis Eroglu, who heads a Turkish Cypriot state recognized only by Ankara, met near New York to discuss progress in talks started in 2008.

Both sides agree, on paper, on relinking Cyprus under a federal umbrella, but differ on how it is to work.

The United Nations is focusing on the electoral system in a future federated Cyprus, how to potentially settle property claims from thousands of people internally displaced, and future citizenship on an island whose demographics have shifted massively since division in 1974.

?There was not any result,? the Greek Cypriot source, who asked not to be named, said after the latest talks ended at an estate in the Long Island town of Manhasset. ?We haven?t managed to achieve new convergences.? Turkish Cypriot officials could not immediately be reached for comment and UN officials had no immediate comment.

UN chief Ban was due to make a statement on the talks on Wednesday morning. ?I believe the Secretary-General will ask the two communities to continue their efforts in Cyprus,? the Greek Cypriot source said, adding that it was also possible Ban would call for a further meeting outside of the Mediterranean island.

Cyprus, with a combined population of about 1 million, was torn apart in a Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. The conflict is a significant source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, and was thrown into sharper focus by a dispute over Mediterranean hydrocarbon riches recently discovered by Greek Cypriots and contested by Ankara.

Turkey has seen its aspirations to join the European Union frustrated by the Cyprus stalemate and Greek Cypriots, who say Ankara cannot join the bloc until the division is resolved.

Mediators want a deal to reunite the island before Greek Cypriots, who represent the whole of Cyprus internationally, take over the EU presidency in July.

Alexander Downer, the UN special envoy to Cyprus who oversees peace talks, has said it is ?hard to see? how the negotiating process can go on while Cyprus is in the EU chair.

Turkey says it will freeze ties with the EU when Cyprus assumes the presidency.

The United Nations would eventually like to have an international conference to resolve the Cyprus issue, but the Greek Cypriots say they will not agree to this until all internal issues have been resolved. [Reuters]