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UN Secretary General urges swift solution to Cyprus problem

(Xinhua)

09:38, January 11, 2012

NICOSIA, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the leaders of estranged Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities that time is running out for a settlement on re-uniting the eastern Mediterranean island.

In a letters to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, which was obtained by Xinhua on Tuesday, Ban said he worried that opportunities to successfully conclude negotiations will be limited once the Republic of Cyprus takes up the presidency of the European Union (EU) in July.

Cyprus was partitioned into Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north when Turkey occupied the north of the island in 1974, in response to a coup inspired by Greek army officers.

In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities declared breakaway and set up "the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which is recognized only by Turkey.

Ban is scheduled to meet the two leaders in New York on January 23-24 in a final drive to bring the two sides closer to a solution.

In his letter, Ban called for a more active role of both leaders in their negotiations which have been going on for almost three and a half years.

Ban's letter said the leaders had outlined their respective views on a settlement, calling this an important effort, but hinted that much more remained to be done.

"Reconciling the remaining differences identified through these outlines would constitute a major step towards a successful outcome of the talks," Ban said.

However, Christofias and Eroglu concluded this week a series of intensive meetings in Nicosia without an concrete agreements.

The United Nations that oversees their negotiations did not fix any more negotiating sessions until the New York meeting and President Christofias said on Tuesday there was no much time left for further preparatory work.

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