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Holbrooke not optimistic about Cyprus talks

A mosque's crescent overlooks the tower of a Greek Orthodox church on the divided island of Cyprus Keystone

The United States envoy to the United Nations has cast doubt on the success of Swiss-based talks next week aimed at ending the division of Cyprus.

The UN-sponsored talks, which begin in Geneva on July 5, will attempt to find common ground between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. The UN has already passed a resolution calling for a bizonal, bi-communal federation, something that is opposed by the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Holbrooke, who is attending the Crans Montana Forum in Switzerland, told participants “I certainly hope there is progress but I am not very optimistic”. He said the Turkish Cypriot position on their sovereignty had stopped the peace process.

The former US special envoy for Cyprus, Holbrooke said he was still watching the issue closely, and would be ready to rejoin discussions himself if they moved forward. He also said that peace talks would pave the way for Cyprus to join the European Union.

Cyprus was split after a Turkish military invasion in 1974, in support of the Turkish Cypriot community, following an Athens-backed coup by the Greek Cypriots. The northern part of the island subsequently declared itself a separate state, the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey.

The Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, and Cypriot president Glafcos Clerides are not expected to meet face to face during the “proximity talks”. Previous rounds of discussions held in New York and Geneva have yielded few results.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR