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    Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders agree to accelerate peace process

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    10.10.2008 - 11:09 | Son Güncelleme:

    Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders have agreed to accelerate the peace process by holding weekly negotiations on a deal to reunify the divided island, U.N.'s special envoy to Cyprus told reporters after the leaders’ meeting on Friday. (UPDATED)

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias were set to meet on Monday and they would continue to negotiate administration and power sharing, U.N. envoy Alexander Downer said.

    "The leaders had a productive meeting. They have agreed to meet on a weekly basis," Downer said.

    There had been criticism of the pace of the negotiations launched on September 3 after the two leaders failed to meet between September 18 and Friday.

    "The leaders today had further discussions on the powers of a federal government and they made progress," he said.

    "They also began discussions on the structure of a federal executive. Both sides made proposals and these discussions will continue on Monday."

    The U.N. envoy called for the two leaders to be given the space to negotiate a settlement which has eluded repeated rounds of talks over the past four decades.

    "I think it is very important that the leaders be given plenty of space in order to continue their work. These are very important negotiations for the future of Cyprus," he said.

    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.

    The meeting with Talat was held in a friendly atmosphere but warned not to expect speedy progress on complex issues, Christofias told reporters after the meeting, which lasted for three and a half hours at the disused Nicosia airport, inside the buffer zone splitting the island.

    "There are differences of opinion between the two communities, so it is clear that above all we need, from us and from you, patience," he said.

    "We will have progress but it won’t be so fast paced, but at least it will be progress," he was quoted by AFP as saying.

    The Turkish foreign minister said on Friday the opportunity to solve Cyprus problem should be well-evaluated, state-run Anatolian Agency reported.

    "However, it is also important to conclude these negotiations in a reasonable period of time," Babacan told a joint press conference with his Dutch counterpart Maxime Verhagen in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

    Turkey and Greece are the guarantor powers for the island, which gained independence from Britain in 1960.

    Photo: AFP



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