Antonio Guterres Cyprus talks reach 'final mile' - UN envoy

Two years of talks on reunifying Cyprus have reached "the final mile" with a new round of decisive negotiations to be held at the end of June, the UN envoy said Monday.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C) speaks beside Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades (R) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on June 4, 2017 at UN headquarters play

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C) speaks beside Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades (R) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on June 4, 2017 at UN headquarters

(AFP)
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Two years of talks on reunifying Cyprus have reached "the final mile" with a new round of decisive negotiations to be held at the end of June, the UN envoy said Monday.

Following a four-hour meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders agreed to return to the negotiating table to try to clinch a historic deal to end the division of the island.

"We are now in this final mile," UN envoy Espen Barth Eide told a news conference.

The leaders will have to decide on "giving final accommodations and concessions that haven't been given before," he said.

During the meeting Sunday evening at UN headquarters, Guterres personally negotiated an agreement with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on the way forward to avoid a collapse of the talks.

The UN-led talks hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree on the terms to advance the reunification talks toward a final summit.

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

The Greek Cypriot side demanded that the withdrawal of Turkish troops be discussed at the conference in Geneva as part of security arrangements.

But the Turkish Cypriots maintained that the conference should focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation.

Turkey maintains some 35,000 troops in the north of the island.

The next round will probably take place in the second half of June and last two weeks, said Eide.

The UN envoy said he would begin talks with Cypriot leaders and also with Turkey, Greece and Britain to try to agree on a new "model" to ensure security for both sides in Cyprus.

Turkey, Greece and Britain are the island's three guarantor powers.

Turkey and Greece "are both committed to finding a settlement (but) they are not on the same page on what that settlement is," said Eide.

"We want to be very clear: a lot of work remains to be done," he added.

The United Nations, which has 950 peacekeepers serving in Cyprus, could have some oversight role to implement the new security arrangements.

Negotiations have focused on creating a new federation in Cyprus but disagreements over the return of property and power-sharing have yet to be fully resolved.

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