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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 08:47 GMT
Cyprus leaders aim for unity deal
Rauf Denktash (left), Kofi Annan (centre) and Tassos Papadopoulos in New York
The Cypriot leaders have entered a one-way street
The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders have started fresh talks on reuniting the divided island.

The meeting followed a small bomb explosion that damaged the Nicosia home of the Turkish Cypriot prime minister.

Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash arrived in Nicosia's buffer zone for the UN-brokered talks.

Greece and Turkey will join the talks if no deal is reached by 22 March, and correspondents say hopes are high.

The Turkish Cypriot PM, Mehmet Ali Talat, who backs the reunification, dismissed the blast outside his home as "a futile effort to scare us," the Associated Press reported.

Cyprus

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is due to finalise a text to be put to referendums on both sides of the divided island on 21 April.

The BBC's Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia says the signs for success are good.

Our correspondent says the current formula ties both Mr Papadopoulos and Mr Denktash into a process virtually guaranteed to end in agreement.

Turkey needs a solution to help its bid for European Union membership, and the EU itself wants a united Cyprus to join in May, rather than just the Greek part of the island, as currently proposed.

Unresolved issues

Previous UN-backed talks have failed repeatedly since the 1970s. The last round collapsed nearly a year ago when Mr Denktash walked out.

Tanks in 1974
The island has been divided for decades

The Greek Cypriot leadership also disagreed with key aspects of the UN blueprint, which calls for a single state with Greek and Turkish-speaking regions linked through a central government.

Unresolved issues include the powers of the central government, the number of Greek Cypriot refugees to return to the north, land concessions and the number of Turkish troops on the island.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the north of the island in response to a short-lived Greek coup.

The self-declared Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tabitha Morgan
"The majority of Turkish Cypriots seem to be in favour of reunification"



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