Cyprus envoy says gap difficult but not unbridgeable

Cyprus envoy says gap difficult but not unbridgeable

United Nations Special Envoy Espen Barth Eide returned to Cyprus Monday in a bid to kick-start reunification talks that broke down last week at the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin, saying it won’t be easy, even though he noted that he, in principal, saw “no unbridgeable differences between the two sides.”

Speaking to reporters after separate meetings with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Eide said he arrived on the island “to listen to both leaders, to hear what their views are about what to do next,” and to offer the full support of the UN Security Council and the secretary-general.

But, ultimately, he added, “it’s in their hands to make up their mind about which are the right steps right now.”

Referring to the second round of talks held at the Swiss resort, Eide said expectations were high and that their failure essentially took away the momentum that was building.

Getting a deal, he said, was also very much about how to sequence things.

“Mont Pelerin 2 was a setback because we were not able to achieve all that we had expected to achieve,” he said.

Anastasiades and Akinci have engaged in UN-backed negotiations since May 2015 until their breakdown on November 22 over disagreements concerning territorial adjustments and the number of displaced Greek Cypriots that could return to their properties.

Eide is scheduled to hold talks with Cypriot party leaders Tuesday before meeting tomorrow with visiting British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson.

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