Kerry says Cyprus dispute begging for a solution

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the division of Cyprus was begging for an international solution and progress in peace talks was possible this year.

Speaking before a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the State Department, Kerry said the dispute over ethnically split Cyprus had gone on for too long.

“It is begging for international efforts to try to help bring about a resolution, a lasting settlement,” Kerry said.

“We believe that the parties can make real and lasting progress in the year 2015,” he said.

Cavusoglu said the United States had a role in helping to resolve the dispute.

“We want to reach a lasting solution in Cyprus,” he said. “We are hoping to reach a solution within 2015. … We are waiting at the negotiating table,” he said, adding that talks should resume after presidential elections in northern Cyprus, a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state.

Cyprus was split by a Turkish military invasion in 1974 which followed a brief Greek-inspired coup.

Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu failed to win the election in the breakaway territory on Sunday, paving the way for a runoff in late April.

Greek Cypriots suspended their participation in peace talks last October, furious at moves by Turkey to send research ships into areas Nicosia had licensed for offshore oil and gas exploration.

Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway state in the occupied part of the island. The international community regards the Greek Cypriot government in southern Cyprus as the sole legitimate representative of the whole island. [Reuters]

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