TIMELINE - Key events in Cyprus

Wed Sep 3, 2008 10:00am BST

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(Reuters) - Leaders of Cyprus' estranged Greek and Turkish communities launched talks on Wednesday to reunite the island.

Following is a chronology of key events in Cypriot history since independence:

1960 - Britain grants independence to Cyprus under a power-sharing constitution between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

1964 - Power sharing crumbles amid fighting; government formed without Turkish Cypriots and recognised worldwide as only legitimate authority on island. U.N. peacekeeping force (UNFICYP) established.

1974 - Military junta in Greece backs July coup against President Archbishop Makarios. Five days later Turkish troops invade Cyprus.

-- Turkey and Greece come close to war. The coup quickly collapses as does the Athens junta. Turkish forces occupy the northern third of the island.

1983 - Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declares a breakaway state in northern Cyprus. Only Turkey recognises it.

1989 - U.N. brokers agreement with Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides for partial military disengagement of sentry posts in Nicosia and its suburbs where the two were near each other.

2002 - U.N. presents a peace plan for Cyprus calling for broad power-sharing and a return of territory to Greek Cypriots.

2003 - President Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, loses election to Tassos Papadopoulos.

-- Denktash authorises opening checkpoints on the so-called "Green Line" for day trips.

April 24, 2004 - Greek Cypriots reject U.N. power-sharing plan in referendum. Turkish Cypriots, under new leadership of Mehmet Ali Talat, accept it.

-- May 1 - Cyprus joins the EU, still partitioned.

October 4, 2005 - Turkey starts EU entry negotiations. Cyprus says Turkey must open its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic.

-- May 21, 2006 - The first election since the 2004 referendum reaffirms Greek Cypriot backing for leaders advocating a tougher stance towards Turkey in EU entry talks.

-- July 8 - Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders agree to a framework for resuming peace talks.

September 5, 2007 - Papadopoulos and Talat fail to make progress in relaunching peace talks.

February 24, 2008 - Communist party leader Demetris Christofias wins presidential election and agrees to revive reunification efforts.

March 21 - Christofias and Talat meet. They agree to reopen the barricaded Ledra Street in Nicosia.

April 3 - Greek and Turkish Cypriots pull down barricades that have separated them for half a century, reopening Ledra Street. Turkish Cypriot leader Talat crosses the newly opened checkpoint on April 11 in a signal of closer ties.

July 25 - The U.N. announces that Greek and Turkish leaders will launch direct negotiations on September 3.

(Writing by David Cutler and Michele Kambas, London Editorial Reference Unit;)

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