Cyprus UN seeks date for Geneva summit on country

UN-facilitated peace talks aim to reunite Cyprus under a federal roof.

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Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades talks during a televised news conference at the presidential palace in Nicosia on May 22, 2017 play

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades talks during a televised news conference at the presidential palace in Nicosia on May 22, 2017

(POOL/AFP/File)
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A new Cyprus peace conference in Geneva to push forward stalled reunification talks could be agreed by the end of this week, a UN official said Wednesday.

"It is both possible and also my ambition to get an agreement on this issue at the end of this week," UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said.

Eide is involved in shuttle diplomacy between Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to broker agreement on a Geneva summit.

The envoy said there was a "desire to go the final mile and go to Geneva" but "there are real differences we still have to work on."

"I think both sides are in agreement that there is no purpose in going to Geneva just for going to Geneva, just to spend some weeks in Geneva, it doesn't have any meaning in itself," he said after a meeting with Anastasiades.

UN-facilitated peace talks aim to reunite Cyprus under a federal roof.

Anastasiades and Akinci are still far apart on core issues such as power sharing, territorial adjustments, security arrangements and property rights.

The Greek Cypriot leader wants Geneva to focus on post-solution security arrangements while Akinci wants issues of power sharing at the fore.

The talks are also complicated by a Greek Cypriot presidential election next February and the island's search for oil and gas that Ankara wants stopped until the negotiations have reached an outcome.

The two sides have been engaged in fragile peace talks since May 2015 that observers see as the best chance in years to reunify the island.

After meeting Akinci, the envoy said both leaders believed "there is not much more that can be achieved in Cyprus without agreeing on an international conference".

Much of the progress until now has been based on the strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

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.

After a failed peace referendum on a UN blueprint in 2004, the Cyprus Republic now headed by Anastasiades joined the EU as a divided country, while the TRNC remains recognised only by Turkey.

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