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06:44, 29 May 2017 Monday
20:14, 17 February 2017 Friday

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Resolution talks will resume: Turkish Cyprus president
Resolution talks will resume: Turkish Cyprus president

Even if talks to reunify the island went off track, Turkish Cyprus continues to seek a solution, says Mustafa Akinci

World Bulletin / News Desk

Even if Cyprus reunification talks went off track Thursday, the Turkish Cypriot president said they support a bi-zonal and bi-community federal state and have never given up on the reunification talks.

"We have a week until [next] Thursday," when talks are due to resume, said President Mustafa Akinci after receiving a delegation from the Bi-communal Peace Platform on Friday.

"We will wait to see the next steps," Akinci said. "We want a resolution and peace on this island," he added, saying that the Greek Cypriots should work to restore confidence.

Akinci told reporters Thursday that the unification talks ended abruptly when Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades angrily walked out of the room.

The sudden walkout was triggered when UN Cyprus Envoy Espen Barth Eide expressed concern about a Greek Cypriot move to commemorate a 1950 referendum on "Enosis," or union with Greece, sowing unrest among the Turkish community.

When Eide said action was needed to address this, Anastasiades “said 'there is nothing else to say', slammed the door and left,” according to Akinci.

But Anastasiades said he had left the room during a break.

The island split into two sides in 1974 when a pro-Enosis Greek Cypriot coup led to violence against the island’s Turkish population, triggering Turkey’s peace intervention as a guarantor power under treaty.

Eide held separate meetings with Anastasiades and Akinci late Thursday and said that the talks would resume next Thursday.

Akinci said that Eide should speak up about how the meeting went off track, asking why Eide was hiding the facts.

He added that Anastasiades himself had also said at the meeting that the Greek parliament’s decision to establish the commemoration was a mistake.

"Anastasiades should express this opinion not only behind closed doors, but also publicly and do what is necessary," he said.

 Enosis divisions

Last Friday, the Greek Cypriot parliament voted to introduce a yearly public school commemoration of a 1950 referendum in which Greek Cypriots voted overwhelmingly for Athens to take over the island.

On Monday, Akinci asked Eide to urge Anastasiades not to approve the decision. Talks on Tuesday were cancelled amid disagreement over the Enosis move.

Akinci said that the idea of Enosis and the events it triggered had been tragic for Cyprus.

The eastern Mediterranean island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Greek Cypriot administration in the south after a 1974 military coup was followed by the intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power.

The Cypriot issue remains unsolved despite a series of discussions which resumed in May 2015.

The main goal is to find a political solution as the sides seek to reunify the island under a federal system after more than 40 years of division.

Cyprus’ three guarantors -- Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom -- were assigned when it gained independence from Britain in 1960.

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Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution
Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organisation by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to the so-called Islamic State group. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias. At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya. The organisation took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Kadhafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.