FACTBOX - Five facts on Cyprus leaders

Wed Sep 3, 2008 9:21am BST

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(Reuters) - Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat launched reunification talks on Wednesday, the first since peace efforts collapsed in 2004.

Following are five facts on each of the two leaders:

CHRISTOFIAS

- Elected President of Cyprus in 2008, routing his former coalition partner Tassos Papadopoulos, on a pledge to be more pro-active in reunification talks.

- Christofias heads AKEL, the island's powerful Communist party. He is the only communist EU head of state and his party recently backed rejection of the EU reform treaty.

- His family are refugees from the 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a brief, Greek-inspired coup. His mother still lives in refugee housing.

- Soviet-educated on a scholarship, with a doctorate in history, he speaks Russian and has close ties with the Kremlin.

- Born August 29 1946, he later underwent a life-saving kidney transplant with his sister as donor. He is married and has three children.

TALAT:

- President of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, he was elected for a five-year term in April 2005 and previously held post of prime minister.

- He was the head of the leftist Republican Turkish Party.

- Talat actively supported the endorsement of a United Nations reunification blueprint for Cyprus in 2004. The plan won 65 percent approval among Turkish Cypriots, but 75 percent rejection from Greek Cypriots.

- He trained as an electrical engineer at Middle East Technical University in Ankara.

- Born July 6, 1952, he is a keen gardener. He is married and has two children.

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