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Cyprus peace talks: UN chief urges courage

UN chief Ban Ki-moon met the Turkish Cypriot leader and the Greek Cypriot president

The UN secretary-general says he is encouraged by efforts to find a permanent solution to the division of Cyprus.

But Ban Ki-moon said more courage was needed after talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias.

The two leaders have been locked in negotiations for the past 16 months.

Mr Ban said he was encouraged by a "shared commitment for a comprehensive solution as early as possible".

But while he spoke of convergence on some areas, it is clear that many issues remain unresolved, says the BBC's Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia.

'Grindingly slow' progress

Flanked by the two men after meeting each separately, and then together, Mr Ban said: "We will need even more courage and determination in the period ahead to bring these talks to a successful conclusion."

The divided town of Famagusta, Cyprus
A UN-administered boundary currently separates Cyprus

Peace talks were launched amid much optimism and fanfare in September 2008. But progress has been grindingly slow and time may be running out to find a solution, analysts say.

The two leaders said there had been progress in the past three weeks over issues such as governance and power-sharing.

Whilst agreement appears near on certain issues, others such as territory and property, let alone security, seem seem harder to resolve, our correspondent says.

There are also concerns that talks could be shelved if Mr Talat, who is seen as a moderate, loses April's leadership election in northern Cyprus to nationalist candidate Dervis Eroglu, who is currently leading in opinion polls.

Map

Northern Cyprus is recognised as a state only by Turkey.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish forces invaded the island in response to a Greek-led coup apparently aimed at making it part of Greece.

The last attempt at a negotiated solution to the Cypriot problem - in 2004 - collapsed when Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of a UN settlement plan, but Greek Cypriots rejected it.

As a result, Cyprus - or the southern part ruled by Greek Cypriots - joined the European Union that year, while the north remained effectively excluded.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Financial TimesBan looks to 'mutually beneficial solution' - 10 hrs ago
Telegraph UN urges Cyprus leaders to push for peace deal - 12 hrs ago
Reuters UK U.N.'s Ban says Cyprus leaders must do more for deal - 18 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk Cyprus leaders vow to reunify island, says UN head - 18 hrs ago
France24 UN's Ban seeks to boost Cyprus peace push - 27 hrs ago
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