UN envoy: Key Cyprus security issues studied with 'new eyes'

UNITED NATIONS (AP) " The U.N. envoy trying to help promote the reunification of Cyprus said Monday that key security issues including the continued presence of Turkish troops are being looked at "through new eyes" " and the political will is there to find solutions.

Espen Barth Eide told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors that because Greek Cypriots want Turkish troops out and Turkish Cypriots want them to remain, both sides and the guarantors of Cyprus' security " Britain, Turkey and Greece " are now looking for "solutions that they can all live with."

Among questions being asked, he said, are whether new "mechanisms" and new "connections" to the international community and neighboring countries can ensure that both Turkish and Greek Cypriots feel secure.

"Is it easy? No. Is the will there to find solutions? Yes. And that's what will be most of our focus now," Eide said. "They might not be exactly those that people have been seeking for all these years, but I think they can eventually work."

He refused to provide any details explaining that all parties agreed not to discuss specifics publicly.

Cyprus was split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by Cypriot supporters of union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state in 1983, but only Turkey recognizes it and keeps 35,000 troops there.

While the island joined the European Union in 2004, only the internationally recognized Greek-speaking south enjoys full membership benefits.

Earlier this month, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders and officials from the three "guarantor" countries met in Geneva. Eide said the guarantors are exchanging views now and working with the U.N. "to prepare the next phase."

The Security Council welcomed the progress in the Cyprus talks and said it will extend the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission to support the two sides in reaching a settlement.

Council members "urged all parties to maintain momentum and seize the opportunity they now have to secure an historic agreement for a united Cyprus."

Eide stressed that "there is a window of opportunity which is not extremely long."

But he said he wouldn't set a deadline for negotiations.

"We don't need that," Eide said, "because my very strong sense is that not only the two sides in Cyprus, but also the other players involved, are aware that there is a momentum now. ... We're probably at the best of times in creating ... the circumstance in which a solution can be found."

But Eide stressed that "it's not open-ended that we're going to do this for many, many months or years to come."

And if it's wasted, he warned, no one knows when another opportunity might arise.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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