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UN - Ban welcomes resumption of Cyprus reunification talks

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the resumption of talks that aim to reunify the Mediterranean island country of Cyprus, urging both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to be guided by the spirit of give-and-take in their negotiations.

Today’s meeting was the first between the two parties since Dervis Eroglu replaced Mehmet Ali Talat as the Turkish Cypriot leader following elections in the northern part of Cyprus last month. Demetris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader, headed his delegation.

In remarks delivered by his Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer, Mr. Ban said he was encouraged by the progress made during the previous round of talks in March.

“I am very encouraged by the convergences that were reached. I am also encouraged that the two leaders have agreed to continue on the basis of the United Nations parameters, Security Council resolutions and the joint statements made on 23 May and 1 July 2008,” he said.

Mr. Ban told both delegations that a settlement was within their grasp and urged them to seize the opportunity within the limited time they had.

“Achieving an agreement will require vision, statesmanship and courage. Your communities want and expect a settlement,” Mr. Ban said. “This will require give-and-take on both sides, and the ability to understand the issues and what is at stake from the perspective of the other side,” he added.

“You must convince not only your own community of the value of a settlement; you must also convince the other community of your good faith. This is not a zero-sum game. It is possible, and indeed necessary, to arrive at a solution that clearly benefits both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,” the Secretary-General said.

He assured the delegations that the international community was committed to continuing its support for this Cypriot-led process, saying he truly believed that they can reach an agreement in the coming months. “Together with my representative, Mr. Downer, I remain ready and willing to help,” he added.

In remarks to the reporters, Mr. Downer said the meeting was held in a warm and positive atmosphere, adding that both Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu had welcomed the Secretary-General’s statement.

“What the two leaders agreed was that they would confirm existing convergences and they would continue the discussions on property from where they were left off before the talks broke up earlier in the year,” said Mr. Downer.

He said the two leaders will meet again on Thursday next week. Their representatives will meet on Monday.

A UN peacekeeping mission known as UNFICYP been stationed in Cyprus since 1964 after an outbreak of inter-communal violence.

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