The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders have agreed to start full-fledged negotiations within three months on resolving the long-running dispute on the Mediterranean island, the United Nations' top envoy to Cyprus said today.
The formal negotiations will be held under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, Michael Møller, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, said in a statement issued on behalf of the two leaders, Dimitris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat, after he took part in talks with them today in Nicosia.
The two leaders had achieved “a great degree of convergence” after exchanging their views, the statement said, adding that they would now ask their respective advisers to quickly set up working groups and technical committees ahead of the negotiations.
“In taking full responsibility for the conduct of future negotiations, the leaders have also agreed to meet three months from now to review the work of the working groups and technical committees, and using their results, to start full-fledged negotiations.”
In addition, Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat have agreed to meet as and when needed ahead of the start of their formal negotiations.
The Ledra Street crossing in Nicosia will also be opened “as soon as technically possible” and will function in line with the established practices at other crossings, while the opening of the Limnitis crossing and other crossings will be on the agenda for the upcoming meetings of their advisers.
Ahead of today's talks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced at the start of this week that he is dispatching an assessment team – headed by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe – to the region to engage in dialogue with all key stakeholders in hopes of a breakthrough to the long-running dispute.
The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established in March 1964 following the outbreak of communal violence on the Mediterranean island and the mission is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to the maintenance of law and order and to a return to normal conditions.
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