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Iran Press TV

Cyprus very close to deal despite halt in talks: UN

Iran Press TV

Mon May 29, 2017 4:59PM

A United Nations official says Cyprus still remains "very, very close" to an agreement to reunite the ethnically-divided island despite a halt in negotiations last week.

Espen Barth Eide, the UN special adviser on Cyprus, made the remark in the Greek capital of Athens on Monday, after mediation efforts reached a deadlock in the aftermath of a disagreement between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on how the talks should proceed.

Eide said the two rival leaders had agreed on most issues required for a deal and that the talks had brought the prospect of federal reunification closer than ever since the island's division more than 40 years ago.

"We are indeed very, very close -- actually closer than most people seem to understand," the UN envoy said. "On at least five of the six issues, the leaders see eye to eye. We still have this issue of security and guarantees."

Eide noted that Anastasiades and Akinci also differed on the future of some 35,000 Turkish troops on the island.

The most recent negotiations on reunification began in 2015, but stumbled on key issues of security arrangements and how much territory each side would administer.

On Saturday, dozens of Greek and Turkish Cypriot protesters, beating drums, blowing whistles and singing folk songs, formed a human chain across a UN-controlled buffer zone dividing the capital Nicosia to voice support for reunification.

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

After a failed referendum on a UN peace plan in 2004, the Cyprus Republic joined the European Union as a divided country.

The self-declared republic in the Turkish-held north is recognized only by Turkey.

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