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UN chief joins Cyprus peace talks to help clear logjam

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UN chief joins Cyprus peace talks to help clear logjam



June 30, 2017
Updated: June 30, 2017 5:43am

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) β€” The presence of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at high-level talks to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus offered a glimmer of hope that an impasse preventing a peace deal could be overcome, officials said Friday.

The east Mediterranean island’s Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades called a morning round of discussions “creative” that “may allow for ways out of the impasse.”


Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias echoed Anastasiades, calling the U.N. chief’s presence at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana where talks are being held, “useful and beneficial.”

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“The goal, as (Guterres) described it, is for Cyprus to be a normal state like any other U.N. member state,” Kotzias said.

Asked if rival sides had reached any common ground, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said not yet.

Addressing the rival sides earlier, Guterres said in unscripted remarks that “the emotional and rational” Mediterranean sides of Greeks and Turks are a strength that could be used to resolve problems holding back an agreement, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to disclose details of the meeting.

Two days of talks have made no real progress on the core issue of the island’s future security that could unlock an overall peace accord.

Guterres is sounding out Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and top diplomats from Cyprus’ “guarantors” β€” Greece, Turkey and Britain β€” on ways to bridge gaps preventing progress.

Turkey is rebuffing Greek and Greek Cypriot calls to remove all troops from breakaway northern Cyprus after the island is reunified as a federation. It insists that any peace accord should grant Turkish citizens the right to relocate and transfer money, services and goods to the European Union member island.

Although Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, only the Greek Cypriot southern part that is the seat of the island’s internationally recognized government enjoys full benefits.

The island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup staged by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey has since stationed more than 35,000 troops in the north.

Turkey and the minority Turkish Cypriots want at least some of the troops to remain and enforce the peace after reunification under revised military rights accorded to the guarantor nations under Cyprus’ 1960’s constitution.

Greece and the Greek Cypriots want military rights abolished and all Turkish troops removed, replaced instead by a U.N. Security Council-backed international police force.

“We won’t allow anyone to ask for all or nothing,” Kotzias said before the start of talks Friday.

Cavusoglu on Thursday scolded Greece and Greek Cypriots to “wake up from their dream” that Turkey will withdraw all of its troops from Cyprus and give up military rights there as part of any agreement.

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Associated Press writer Elena Becatoros in Athens contributed to this report.



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