UN hosts Cyprus leaders in push for peace

Published February 27, 2019, 12:22 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Agence France-Presse

The United Nations on Tuesday hosted an informal meeting between the leaders of divided Cyprus, aimed at reviving stalled peace talks.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (L) stands alongside Elizabeth Spehar, head of the UN peacekeeping force on the island, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, before their informal meeting in the buffer zone (POOL/AFP/MANILA BULLETIN)
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (L) stands alongside Elizabeth Spehar, head of the UN peacekeeping force on the island, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, before their informal meeting in the buffer zone (POOL/AFP/MANILA BULLETIN)

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met for the first time in nearly four months at a UN compound in the island’s buffer zone.

“They had a constructive exchange of views in a cordial atmosphere,” the UN said after the meeting, which was hosted by Elizabeth Spehar who heads the body’s Cyprus peacekeeping mission.

It said the leaders were “committed to intensifying” confidence-building measures “with the objective of improving the daily lives of all Cypriots”.

The measures discussed include proposals already tabled in recent years, such as improving mobile phone connectivity across the island.

Despite moves to improve relations such as two new border crossings opening in November, tensions continue between the two sides over offshore energy resources claimed by both administrations.

There have been no official peace negotiations since those hosted by Switzerland collapsed in 2017, and the UN Security Council last month pressed all sides to get talks back on track.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of the island in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup.

 
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