UN chief launches Cyprus talks, joined by Greece, Turkey, UK

GENEVA (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held brief meetings late Tuesday with leaders of war-divided Cyprus in the Swiss city of Geneva in an effort to revive talks toward a settlement.

Guterres met with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Ersin Tatar, leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot republic in the north of the island, ahead of more detailed discussions planned for Wednesday.

The Mediterranean island was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when a coup aimed at union with Greece triggered a Turkish invasion.

The three-day meetings in Geneva are aimed at gauging willingness to resume formal peace negotiations that have been stalled since 2017.

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Greece and the former colonial ruler Britain, which retains military bases on the island, will also be present at the talks.

European Union governments hoping to improve relations with Turkey after months of tension are likely to watch the process for signs that Ankara is willing to engage in the talks.

Turkey is also at odds with NATO ally and neighbor Greece over boundaries and mineral rights in the eastern Mediterranean. The Geneva meetings could provide an opportunity to continue fence-mending consultations between the two countries despite generally low expectations over the Cyprus talks.

Turkey is backing a two-state model for the island — a notion that Greek Cypriots say they would never accept as it would legitimize the country’s partition.

The “secretary-general is realistic. This is an issue that he knows well,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said of Guterres. “He has participated in discussions before. So he is realistic.”

After arriving in Geneva late Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “The U.K. will work for the resumption of negotiations aiming at a fair and lasting settlement to the Cyprus issue.”

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Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten reported this story in Geneva and AP writer Menelao Hadjicostis reported from Nicosia, Cyprus. AP writer Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Greece, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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