Ban welcomes progress in Cyprus talks
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday welcomed a statement reflecting some progress in talks to settle communal and political divisions in Cyprus.
Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat issued a statement in Nicosia on Tuesday saying they were "encouraged by the important progress" in negotiations on governance and power-sharing between the two communities, which have been the sticking points in the decades-old talks, dpa reported.
Ban congratulated the two leaders for their "stronger than ever commitment to a settlement" and noted that "important progress in the chapters of governance and power-sharing, European Union matters and the economy had been achieved."
He called Christofias and Talat "leaders with courage and vision ... who have taken enormous political risk to carry the process forward."
He urged them to find a solution to the division of the island, taking into consideration the legitimate rights of both communities. He said a settlement would be of interest for Cyprus and represent a "critical peace dividend" for the entire region.
A United Nations peacekeeping mission has been deployed along the ceasefire line separating Turk Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south since the 1960s.
The more prosperous south has joined the EU while the Turkish- backed north has become more isolated. Turkey is also maintaining more than 30,000 military troops in the north, complicating negotiations with the south.