Deal to unify Cyprus "within reach" - UN chief

Deal to unify Cyprus

PanARMENIAN.Net - A deal to unify Cyprus is within reach, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday, November 7 as he opened talks aimed at resolving one of the world's longest running political crises, AFP reports.

The Mediterranean resort island has been split since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

The United Nations has launched several failed peace drives over the last four decades, but the latest bid between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci has been billed as the last best hope for an enduring truce.

During five days of negotiations at a luxury Swiss resort overlooking the Alps, the two leaders were set to directly discuss the thorny issue of territorial adjustments for the first time.

Ban applauded "significant progress" during the peace process that began 18 months ago, but cautioned that "sensitive and difficult issues still remain".

"The two leaders have reached a critical juncture in their talks. I encourage them to make the most of the moment and the momentum," he told reporters immediately before talks began.

"The prospect of a solution in Cyprus is within their reach."

The last major peace push collapsed in 2004 when a proposal worked out by then UN chief Kofi Annan was accepted by most Turkish Cypriots but resoundingly dismissed by Greek Cypriots in twin referendums.

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