Cyprus leaders agree to push on with reunification talks


Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders agreed Sunday to return to the negotiating table later this month in a new bid to clinch a historic deal on reunifying the island.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the new round of talks following a four-hour dinner meeting with the two leaders at UN headquarters in New York.

Guterres had invited Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to salvage a two-year diplomatic effort aimed at achieving a settlement in Cyprus.

Flanked by the two leaders, Guterres told reporters after the lengthy meeting that all three had “agreed on the need to reconvene the conference on Cyprus in June.”

No firm date was announced, but Guterres said he would consult with Britain, the European Union, Greece and Turkey on the timing.

The UN-led talks hit a wall 10 days ago after the sides failed to agree on the terms to advance the reunification talks toward a final summit.

At the opening of the meeting, Guterres posed for photographers, standing between the two leaders and holding each one by a hand to stress the need to work together.

In his remarks, Guterres said “all agreed that the chapter on security and guarantees is of vital importance to the two communities.”

“Progress in this chapter is an essential element in reaching an overall agreement and in building trust between the two communities in relation to their future security,” he added.

The UN envoy will work with all sides to prepare “a common document to guide the discussions on security and guarantees,” said Guterres.

The leaders also agreed to continue negotiations on “all other outstanding issues, starting with territory, property and governance, and power-sharing,” he said.

“All issues will be negotiated interdependently,” added the UN chief, stressing that “nothing is agreed till everything is agreed.”

Arriving at UN headquarters, Akinci told reporters that “the reason why we are here is the impasse created by one side's insistence on putting forward preconditions.”

Anastasiades hit back, saying “I am not here for a blame game” and voicing hope that the meeting could “pave the way for a constructive dialogue, in order to reach, not just progress, but a settlement.”