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Peace talks to reunite Cyprus resume after 2-year break
Published Tuesday 11/02/2014 14:09
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NICOSIA (AFP) -- Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Dervis Eroglu were meeting Tuesday to relaunch talks on ending the island's division after a nearly two-year break.

The two leaders were expected to ratify a joint declaration allowing for the resumption of the stalled peace process.

The meeting was taking place in the UN-controlled buffer zone, at the now defunct Nicosia international airport and was expected to last about an hour, officials said.

The United Nations is represented by UN Chief of Mission Lisa Buttenheim, who at the end of the session was to read out the joint declaration, officials said.

Both leaders are also expected to say a few words and an announcement of confidence building measures is also likely.

Anastasiades is accompanied by his chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and several other aides.

For the first time in many years the Cypriot president -- Anastasiades -- will not be conducting face-to-face negotiations on a peace settlement; instead Mavroyiannis was appointed as chief negotiator.

Eroglu is also accompanied by several of his top aides, in addition to an interpreter.

Greek Cypriot government spokesman Christos Stylianides said Tuesday’s meeting will be of a procedural nature and in the coming days the chief negotiators will visit both Athens and Ankara to push the process forward.

The island's untapped gas and oil riches offshore and a huge natural gas find in waters off neighboring Israel have changed the dynamics in the region.

Hopes are high that these factors can transform the current frosty climate into one of reconciliation and trust that would make an elusive peace deal achievable.

Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in 1974 in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.
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