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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 09:57 GMT
Cyprus peace talks 'must succeed'
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias. File photo
Mr Christofias, a left-winger, was elected president last month
The new President of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, has said the failure of fresh peace talks will be "devastating" for the divided island.

Mr Christofias was speaking two days before his planned talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

Both leaders have voiced optimism that they can make progress towards reunification of the island.

Decades of diplomatic efforts have failed to reunite the ethnic Greek and Turkish communities.

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"This time we must succeed. A new failure will be devastating for the future of our people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," Mr Christofias told reporters in Nicosia.

"On our part, we are already willing to work hard to reach... a fair, viable and workable solution soon," he added.

Mr Christofias said earlier that he had asked the United Nations to arrange a meeting with Mehmet Ali Talat.

The Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been divided since 1974, when Turkey sent troops into the north, after a coup by Greek Cypriots who wanted union with Greece.

The island's partition has long stood as an obstacle to Turkey's bid to join the EU, and remains a source of contention between Nato allies Turkey and Greece.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognised by Turkey.



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