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    Greek and Turkish Cypriots scrap war games in goodwill gesture

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    13.10.2008 - 11:54 | Son Güncelleme: 13.10.2008 - 17:35

    Turkish and Greek Cypriots scrapped annual military exercises on Monday in a goodwill gesture as reunification talks progress on the divided island. (UPDATED)

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias announced Monday cancellation of the annual military exercises after their meeting at the buffer zone in Nicosia.  

    The military exercises, the Turkish Cypriots' Toros and the Greek Cypriots' Nikiforos, have frequently caused tension in the island.

    Christofias said the cancellation of the exercise was in line with a cabinet decision to urge U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to back an agreement permanently scrapping regular military exercises held separately by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot forces.

    Talat and Christofias held Monday their fourth meeting within the framework of the comprehensive peace talks relaunched last month.     

    The two leaders discussed the executive power mechanism, including the presidency and vice-presidency mechanism, U.N.'s special envoy to Cyprus said in a statement after Monday's three-hour meeting, which took place

    The topic of the executive power mechanism will be further discussed by the Cypriot leaders on Oct. 22, U.N. envoy Alexander Downer said.

    He added the aides of both leaders would meet each other during the week.

    "Inevitably, there’s a growing understanding between the two side," Downer said. "It’s going to take lots of time and its going to be a difficult negotiation. There is no question of that."

     

    Cyprus has been divided since 1964 when Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves.

    The launch of negotiations marked the first major push for peace since the failure of a U.N. reunification plan in 2004, which was approved by Turkish Cypriots but overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriots. 

    Power sharing disputes remain at the heart of the Cyprus problem. The Greek Cypriots are seeking a reunification under a strong federal government but the Turkish Cypriots prefer more a devolved union.

    Other thorny issues include security guarantees and property settlement claims.

     

     

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