UN envoy optimistic on Cyprus reunification solution

A U.N. envoy for divided Cyprus said he was optimistic on a peace deal ending a decades-old conflict splitting the island's Turks and Greeks.

UN envoy optimistic on Cyprus reunification solution

A U.N. envoy for divided Cyprus said on Monday he was optimistic on a peace deal ending a decades-old conflict splitting the island's Turks and Greeks.

"I'm certainly cautiously optimistic... I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't think there was any prospect of success," said Alexander Downer, a former Australian foreign minister who took over as special envoy for Cyprus in 2008.

Downer has been overseeing slow-moving reunification talks between Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and President Demetris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader which started last year. Previous attempts by the United Nations to reconcile the two sides ended in failure.

Although the sides say they want to reunite Cyprus as a federation, disputes range on how power sharing would work to property grievances of tens of thousands of people uprooted in the conflict. About a quarter of Cyprus's population of around 1.0 million is internally displaced.

The United Nations monitors a buffer zone splitting the island east to west, and is one of the oldest peacekeeping missions worldwide.

Downer, who met Talat and Christofias on Monday, said the sides would be discussing ways to bridge differences on issues already covered in the talks.

"These talks have covered a wide area, there has been a lot of productive discussion and they've certainly moved forward a good distance," Downer said.

Reuters
Last Mod: 14 Aralık 2009, 22:17
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