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United Nations chief joins Cyprus peace talks to help clear logjam

Asked if rival sides had reached any common ground, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said not yet.”We can not continue negotiations forever”, Cavusoglu had told reporters in Crans-Montana. “So to reach a settlement, we need to agree on all outstanding issues”.”A clear understanding emerged of the essential elements of a package that might lead to a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus”, the spokesperson said, adding that the talks are continuing on Saturday at the political level.The presence of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at high-level talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus offered a glimmer of hope that an impasse preventing a peace deal could be overcome, officials said on June 30.Several previous peace drives have stumbled over the issue, with Greek-Cypriots demanding a total withdrawal of what they say is an occupying force and minority Turkish-speakers fearful of ethnic violence in the event of a pullout. The conflict remains a source of tension between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Greece and Turkey, and hinders Ankara’s ambition of joining the European Union.Turkey’s military presence in northern Cyprus, where it maintains a contingent of up to 30,000 troops, is a key source of contention, along with Turkish Cypriot calls for a rotating presidency with Greek Cypriots.”The security and guarantees chapter is of crucial importance for a comprehensive solution”, said Guterres.Central to negotiations are opposing views over the island’s future security — agreement on that issue has the potential of unlocking an overall peace accord.For his part, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias praised the United Nations chief as a “prominent personality on the global stage”.The island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup staged by supporters of union with Greece.Cyprus is an European Union member, but only the Greek Cypriot southern part which is the seat of the island’s internationally recognized government, enjoys full benefits. Turkey maintains more than 35,000 troops there. Greece and the Greek Cypriots want military rights abolished and all Turkish troops removed and replaced instead by a U.N. Security Council-backed worldwide police force.The Greek Cypriots are also demanding that Turkey renounces its position as guarantor.