US Welcomes Upcoming UN-backed Cyprus Talks

Posted January 21st, 2012 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States is urging the leaders of divided Cyprus to take advantage of next week's talks in New York to make real progress toward a settlement reunifying the island.

A spokesman for the State Department, Victoria Nuland, issued a statement Saturday, saying the U.S. government welcomes the United Nations-backed negotiations set for Monday and Tuesday in New York.

U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon will meet with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu for the talks sponsored by the United Nations Secretary General's Good Offices Mission.

Nuland said the U.S.government also urges the leaders of the two sides to seize this important opportunity to make real and substantial progress toward a settlement reunifying the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded after a coup by Greek Cypriot supporters of a union with Greece.

Years of United Nations-sponsored peace talks have failed to produce a lasting settlement for the island state. In 2004, the Greek-held portion of Cyprus joined the European Union alone.

Turkish Cypriots declared independence in the 1980s, but only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Hardline Turkish Cypriot politician and leader Rauf Denktash who headed the self-proclaimed state until 2005, died earlier this month.