NEWS

UN chief urges Cyprus drive

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday said he was «encouraged» by the resuscitation of stalled peace talks on the divided island of Cyprus following a two-month hiatus and called on community leaders not to lose momentum in the latest drive to reach a consensus. «A settlement is within your grasp and this opportunity must be seized, as time is not on your side,» Ban said in a statement read out by UN special envoy to Cyprus Alexander Downer, who on Monday night attended a dinner in Nicosia with Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu, the new leader of the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus. «Achieving an agreement will require vision, statesmanship and courage,» the UN chief added. Ban said he believed the two leaders could reach a deal «in the coming months.» The election last month of hardliner Eroglu, who replaced the moderate Mehmet Ali Talat, raised fears of the peace process being derailed.