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Secretary-General sends top official to Cyprus to assess chance of breakthrough

17 March 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is dispatching the United Nations’ top political official to Cyprus to lead an assessment team to the region amid hopes of a possible breakthrough in the search for a resolution to the long-running dispute on the Mediterranean island.

Mr. Ban told reporters today at UN Headquarters in New York that he was sending Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe to head a team that would “engage in dialogue with all stakeholders” in Cyprus.

“We hope that we will be able to see improvement and make some breakthrough in this long-pending issue in Europe,” Mr. Ban said.

Dimitris Christofias was recently elected President of the Republic of Cyprus and the Secretary-General said he was encouraged by both the signals so far from Mr. Christofias and from the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, who met with Mr. Ban last week in Senegal, and “also expressed his willingness to engage in constructive dialogue.”

Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat have agreed to take part in direct talks under UN auspices this Friday in Nicosia.

“I think the international community should seize the momentum and window of opportunity when Mr. Christofias, the new Cyprus President, was elected and [who] is committed to a resolution of this issue,” Mr. Ban said.

The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established in March 1964 following the outbreak of intercommunal violence on the Mediterranean island and the mission is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to the maintenance of law and order and to a return to normal conditions.

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