Leaders agree to step up pace of negotiations

Presidents Eroglu and Anastasiades agreed today to try to speed up the pace of slow-moving peace talks to resolve outstanding issues in the decades-old conflict, a U.N. official said, Reuters reports.

Since launching a new round of negotiations in February, the talks have served to enhance multiple differences between the two sides, including power sharing issues and territory.

Cyprus was divided following a Turkish “invasion” [peace keeping mission] in 1974 prompted by a brief Greek-inspired coup, but the seeds of division were sown a decade earlier when a power-sharing government crumbled amid violence.

The latest talks, which had until now focused on submitting proposals, would now move into “structured negotiations”, United Nations envoy Espen Barth Eide said.

“They (the leaders) have instructed their negotiators to enter into active negotiations with a view to bridging the gap through real negotiation on unresolved core issues,” said Eide, a former Norwegian foreign minister appointed U.N. special adviser for Cyprus last month.

The process would involve placing all unresolved differences on the table to be addressed in a “negotiating format”, Eide told reporters after meeting Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu in the UN buffer zone.

The United Nations would be ready to assist in coming up with ideas to bridge any gaps. There were, Eide said, “clear differences of opinion” on some issues.

Anastasiades and Eroglu agreed to increase the number of meetings to at least twice a month, Eide said.

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