Cyprus leaders to revive peace talks under UN mediator

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Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (R), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (L), and UN special envoy, Norwegian Espen Barth Eide, 11 May 15Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The UN envoy (centre) announced progress on Monday after talks at Nicosia's Ledra Palace Hotel

The leaders of the divided Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus plan to resume peace talks on Friday, which were broken off last year.

The announcement followed a UN-brokered meeting in Nicosia on Monday.

President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will relaunch the peace process in Nicosia's neutral buffer zone.

Mr Akinci was elected last month. The Turkish-controlled north broke away in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup.

A UN envoy, Espen Barth Eide, said the new peace initiative was "a unique opportunity, an opportunity that will be grasped - it's truly rewarding to work with two leaders with such a strong commitment".

Peace negotiations stalled last October, when the Greek Cypriots walked out in protest at the presence of a Turkish ship prospecting for natural gas off the island's south coast.

Correspondents say Mr Akinci is viewed as a moderate who can push forward the talks.

In 1974 the island was effectively partitioned, with the northern third inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots.

The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is diplomatically isolated, recognised only by Turkey.

UN peacekeeping forces estimate that 165,000 Greek Cypriots fled or were expelled from the north, and 45,000 Turkish Cypriots from the south, although the parties to the conflict say the figures are higher.

Compensation for those displaced by the conflict remains one of the thorniest issues in the talks.