The UN Security Council welcomed Thursday an agreement between Cypriot leaders that aims to hold fully-fledged negotiations to end the decades-old ethnic division on the island. ( dpa )
Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmed Ali Talal agreed on March 21 to hold preparatory talks for three months with hopes to lay down the rules for formal negotiations to settle the division.
The 15-nation council in New York said it was encouraged by the development because a settlement for Cyprus has eluded the international community for more than four decades. The two ethnic communities have remained separated by a so-called green line that is manned by a UN peacekeeping force.
The council said in a statement it discussed for more than two hours that the two leaders have shown "political leadership."
"The Security Council is encouraged by the launch of the working group and the technical committee, which will prepare the ground for negotiations, in a spirit of good faith on a comprehensive and durable settlement under the UN secretary general's good offices," said the statement, which was read by council president, Dumisani Kumalo, the South African ambassador.
The statement said the agreement would build "trust, momentum and a sense of common interest in the search for a just and lasting solution."
The two sides also agreed in March to reopen the Ledra Street in Nicosia, which had been shut for years, to allow people to move between the two communities as a sign of goodwill to end the division.