UN urges Greek and Turkish Cypriots to reach peace agreement


The UN Security Council urged Greek and Turkish Cypriots on Wednesday "to grasp the current opportunity" of renewed talks to reach a peace agreement that would reunite the divided Mediterranean island.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the UN's most powerful body welcomed progress in the new talks led by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (photo) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci as well as the ongoing efforts to reach "a comprehensive and durable settlement."

Cyprus was split into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized south in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but EU law only applies in the south which enjoys full membership benefits.

Peace talks resumed in May after an eight-month pause triggered by a feud between the Cypriot government and Turkey over the island's right to explore for gas and oil deposits off its shores.

The Security Council stressed that "the status quo is unsustainable."

It welcomed "the positive momentum" and commitment by the leaders to reach a settlement as soon as possible and encouraged the two sides to intensify negotiations on unresolved issues.

The resolution extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus until Jan. 31, 2016. The 1,100-strong mission, which has been deployed on the island since 1964 to deter eruptions of inter-communal fighting, includes about 860 troops and over 60 international police.