Official: US to help overcome Cyprus peace talks snags

AP News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2016 9:41 AM
Official: US to help overcome Cyprus peace talks snags

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The United States is willing to act as messenger to help both sides on ethnically divided Cyprus overcome key hurdles holding back progress in talks aimed at reunifying the island, the Cypriot government spokesman said Wednesday.

Nicos Christodoulides said Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades asked U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland during talks a day earlier to convey to the Turkish side the need to resolve "substantial disagreements" on specific aspects of sharing power in an envisioned federation.

There are also disagreements on how to handle private property lost after Cyprus's division in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup aiming at union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared independence in 1983, but only Turkish recognizes it and maintains more than 35,000 troops there.

"There is a willingness on the part of the United States to assist in the process," Christodoulides told state radio.

Anastasiades also told Nuland Turkey must "tangibly demonstrate" its stated desire for a peace deal, Christodoulides said. He didn't elaborate, but the Greek Cypriot side has made it clear that military intervention and troop deployment rights that Greece, Turkey and Britain were granted under Cyprus' 1960 constitution cannot be accepted under a new deal.

United Nations-brokered negotiations between Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have made significant progress since they began in May 2015, but important difficulties remain. Both leaders have insisted that the talks are "Cypriot-led" without uninvited foreign interventions.

Sticking points include a demand by the minority Turkish Cypriots to hold the presidency of a future federated Cyprus on a rotating basis, which Anastasiades opposes.