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Cypriot Leaders Hold Further Talks

Cypriot Leaders Hold Further Talks In UN-Backed Reunification Process

New York, Dec 2 2008 2:10PM

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders held further talks today as part of United Nations-sponsored negotiations aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island, focusing their discussions this time on a federal public service.

“The leaders has a good meeting in a friendly atmosphere,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Tayé-Brook Zerihoun said of the latest in a series of talks between Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat since the most recent effort to resolve the decades-old Cyprus problem was launched in the northern spring.

“They began with a one-hour tête-à-tête. They then resumed their discussions on governance, focusing this time on the federal public service on which they identified a number of convergences,” he told reporters after the meeting in the UN Protected Area in Nicosia.

In a report released today Mr. Ban said he was encouraged by the latest talks, and called for a six-month extension, till 15 June 2009, of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) that has been in place on the island since 1964 after the outbreak of intercommunal violence.

“The decision on 3 September 2008 by Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat to resume formal negotiations towards a comprehensive settlement on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality was encouraging,” he tells the Security Council. “It reflected political courage, vision and commitment, which both leaders clearly share…

“My assessment is that, on the whole, negotiations are moving ahead well, with both parties presenting their respective positions and engaging with each other in a constructive and open manner.”

Mr. Ban notes that the issues to be addressed are difficult, and differences along the way will naturally appear, but he adds: “I am confident that both leaders will remain engaged through regular meetings and committed to seeing the process through. A further reason for optimism is the excellent personal chemistry that the leaders enjoy. Their sensitivity to each other’s needs and political constraints are unique assets in helping them move forward together with determination and confidence.”

But he stresses that both leaders will to “actively explain to their respective communities that compromise is indispensable if a solution is to be reached, and to explain and promote the benefits of a win-win solution in the economic, political, security-related and other fields.”

Representatives of the leaders are to meet tomorrow to carry forward discussions on some aspects of governance and the two will hold further discussions on 16 December, when they will take up the issue of external relations.

In his report Mr. Ban notes that the situation in the buffer zone has remained stable, apart from minor incidents of low-level irritants or intimidation, with UNFICYP focusing on maintaining stability and pursuing military confidence-building measures.

ENDS

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