NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus on Monday failed to agree on resuming stalled talks aimed at reunifying the country.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said after an informal meeting that obstacles remain in restarting full-fledged peace negotiations. "Unfortunately, there's still some way to go before we can arrive at the hoped-for result," Anastasiades said after emerging from the three-hour meeting at a restaurant inside the United Nations-controlled buffer zone dividing the capital.
Cyprus was split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared independence in 1983, but on Turkey, which maintains 35,000 troops there, recognize it.
Numerous rounds of peace talks over the last four decades have led nowhere. The extraordinary meeting was the first face-to-face talks the two men have had in months. Anastasiades had requested the meeting in hopes that a sit-down between the two men without the presence of a U.N. envoy would clear up hurdles standing in the way of a resumption of peace talks.
The two sides can't agree on a joint statement sketching out how the small country of roughly a million people would be reunified. Anastasiades says a statement clearly outlining what talks should aim for is essential in avoiding long, inconclusive talks. He insists the aim for a future federated Cyprus with a single sovereignty needs to be encoded in the joint statement.
But Eroglu says a statement is unnecessary since all issues would be taken up in negotiations, putting the impasse to the Greek Cypriot side's insistence on including "issues of substance" in the joint statement.
Both men said there won't be a let-up in efforts to arrive at a statement that would enable the resumption of peace talks.