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Cypriot president says wants zero forces, guarantees from Turkey
July 10, 2017 / 6:22 PM / 4 months ago

Cypriot president says wants zero forces, guarantees from Turkey

ATHENS (Reuters) - President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday he remained ready to negotiate a peace deal with estranged Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, after U.N.-backed talks ended in acrimony last week.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades talks during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

The talks, sponsored by Greece, Turkey and Britain as well as the United Nations, failed to reach a deal to end a conflict that has dragged on for decades and which is a source of friction between Greece and Turkey.

“What I want to make absolutely clear ... (is that) the Greek Cypriot side is ready to negotiate a solution within the parameters set by the United Nations Secretary General,” Anastasiades told a news conference.

He said he was still ready to negotiate a deal based on a timetable for the full withdrawal of Turkish troops from the north of the divided island and a commitment from Turkey that it will cease intervening in Cypriot affairs.

The latest of many attempts to broker an accord on Cyprus ended on July 7 after 10 days of negotiations at a Swiss Alpine resort attended by the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides along with Britain, Greece and Turkey.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called a halt after what diplomats said was a particularly charged debate over a dinner that stretched on through the night.

Anastasiades said that, during negotiations, Guterres was given the impression Turkey would be flexible on both the issue of Turkish intervention and the presence of its armed forces in Cyprus. But Turkey would not commit to those positions in writing, Anastasiades said.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades talks during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Cyprus was split after a Turkish invasion that was triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup in 1974. The seeds of division were sown years earlier after a power-sharing arrangement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots crumbled as a constitutional deadlock led to violence.

A settlement to the long-simmering conflict has been given sharper focus by the prospect of sizeable deposits of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Anastasiades, who runs an internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot Government, said attempts to search for gas deposits would go on despite opposition from Turkey, which disputes those rights.

“We are continuing our energy programme according to schedule,” he said.

Following the talks’ collapse, it was unclear what further efforts the U.N. might undertake to resolve the conflict.

While conceding failure, Anastasiades said islanders should strive for independence even without help from third parties.

“I want to tell Greek and Turkish Cypriots that we should unite and look at the prospects of independence, of true independence and integrity of the Republic of Cyprus as an EU member state which ensures the rights of all,” he said.

Editing by Catherine Evans

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