Cyprus rivals in Geneva as UN seeks ‘common ground’

GENEVA: The UN chief kicked off informal talks with rival Cypriot leaders in Geneva on Tuesday seeking common ground that could help resolve the decades-old dispute.

The United Nations is trying to mediate a deal for the divided island, almost six decades since it first deployed peacekeepers.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has travelled to Geneva to oversee the three days of talks in various formats, four years after the last round of talks collapsed.

“The secretary-general is realistic,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in Geneva before the talks began.

“This is an issue that he knows well. He has participated in discussions before. So he is realistic.” The spokesman stressed the “informal” nature of the talks, which he said aim “to determine whether a common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue within a foreseeable horizon.” The UN announced shortly after 4pm that Guterres had begun a first meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.

That would be followed by a meeting between the UN chief and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, and in the evening Guterres “will host a reception for the heads of delegations,” the UN said.

Turkey has also been invited to the latest talks, along with Greece and Britain — the three guarantors of the island’s 1960 independence — which are all represented by their foreign ministers.


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