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Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to meet

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to meet face to face tomorrow – UN envoy

The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders will hold face-to-face talks tomorrow in the presence of the top United Nations political officer to discuss how to resolve the decades-old inter-communal conflict on the Mediterranean island.

“The idea is to really find ways of moving forward so that we can begin to start some of these processes, perhaps at a technical level, but also (to) address some of the substantive issues,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari said in announcing that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, H.E Tassos Papadopoulos and H.E Mehmet Ali Talat, had accepted his invitation to the meeting.

“The status quo is not sustainable and is not desirable,” Mr. Gambari told reporters. “The Secretary-General remains committed to do the best he can in the remaining time that is available to him as Secretary-General of the United Nations to try to make this process move forward.”

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who leaves office on 31 December, had led earlier talks seeking a comprehensive settlement but these failed in April 2004 when 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan but 76 per cent of Greek Cypriots voted against it.

Mr. Gambari conferred with the two leaders separately yesterday. Tomorrow’s meeting is scheduled to take place at the residence of Mr. Annan’s Special Representative in Cyprus, Michael Moller.

On his return to New York, Mr. Gambari will give Mr. Annan a set of recommendations on how best to move forward in re-launching talks on a comprehensive settlement.

The UN has been involved in the island since March 1964 when the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established with a mandate to prevent a recurrence of fighting, contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order, and contribute to a return to normal conditions.

Currently the fourth-oldest UN peacekeeping operation in the world, it seeks to maintain stability in the 180-kilometre-long Buffer Zone and ensure that there is no alteration of the status quo along the two ceasefire lines drawn in 1974 after renewed fighting.

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