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    'The Elders' to visit Cyprus to support peace talks

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    08.10.2008 - 09:43 | Son Güncelleme:

    A group of international statesmen known as "The Elders" including former U.S. president Jimmy Carter will visit the divided island of Cyprus on Wednesday to support U.N.-backed peace talks.

    Carter, Nobel peace prize-winning South African cleric Desmond Tutu and ex-U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are to "urge greater international recognition of recent progress towards a lasting settlement" during their two-day visit.

     

    They will meet representatives of both communities on the island in a bid to spur on negotiations that started in earnest on Sept. 11 between Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias.

     

    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.

     

    Divided by arguments over territory, property, governance and power-sharing, the Christofias and Talat will continue discussions on the latter two issues this Friday.

     

    "After decades of division, this is a time of hope for the people of this beautiful island. These opportunities don’t come around very often," Archbishop Tutu said in a statement.

     

    "The Elders will not be involved in the negotiations themselves; that is for the Cypriots to do," he said.

     

    "However, we will do what we can to ensure that the foresight and courage of Mr Talat and Mr Christofias are acknowledged and supported in Cyprus, in the region and around the world."

     

    The Elders, formed in 2007 by fellow South African Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel of Mozambique, are a group of globally respected leaders who offer their experience to try to resolve conflicts.

     

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