|Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders met at a cocktail party on Wednesday held to mark new efforts to find a solution to the conflict which has divided the island for 34 years. The leaders decided to meet on May 23 to review the progress of the preparations. (UPDATED)
Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias decided to meet on May 23 to review progress in the preparations for the peace negotiations due to start in June, a senior Turkish Cypriot official was quoted as saying by AFP.
Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders met in March to revive the reunification talks, which have been stalled since 2004 when the Greeks rejected a peace plan in a referendum, and agreed to start formal negotiations in July. Since then technical committees have been holding preparatory talks.
In Nicosia two leaders met at a social event organized at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the U.N.-controlled buffer zone on Wednesday.
Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer said on Thursday they hope to achieve a comprehensive settlement by end-2008. "We hope the two leaders will launch the comprehensive negotiation process under U.N. sponsorship in June and that we will achieve a comprehensive settlement towards the end of the year," said Soyer, who also attended the event.
Cypriot government spokesman Stephanos Stephanou told AFP Christofias and Talat would most likely meet at the U.N. compound in Nicosia.
"They will most probably meet at the U.N. chief of missions residence, as they did last time," Stephanou said. A source close to the talks said the idea was "to take stock about what's happened so far," AFP reported.
Earlier Soyer had said it was not immediately clear where Christofias and Talat would meet
The event was organized by officials from the embassy of Slovakia and was the pair's first meeting since the two met for the first time on March 21 and held breakthrough talks which resulted in the opening of Ledra Street located in the heart of the commercial section in old Nicosia last month.
In April, the United Nations launched preparatory work between the two sides to pave the way for peace talks next month. Working groups and technical committees have been tasked with bridging the differences on key issues -- including property, security and territory -- to give the reunification talks a chance to succeed.
Six working groups and seven technical committees, set up in the context of the March 21 agreement between the leaders, are meeting to prepare the grounds for substantive negotiations between the two leaders.
The leaders also decided to meet again in three months to review the work of the committees dealing with various aspects of the Cyprus problem, the results of which will be used to start negotiations under U.N. auspices leading to a settlement that will reunite Cyprus.