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Swiss help promote dialogue in Cyprus

Switzerland is helping to build a cultural centre in Cyprus that aims to break down north-south tensions on the island.

The project forms part of efforts to overcome economic and social disparities within the European Union, said the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on Wednesday.

The centre will be located in the buffer zone that separates the Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations. It aims to promote dialogue between the two by holding cultural events, roundtable talks and exhibitions.

Switzerland will contribute SFr190,000 ($188,000) towards the construction of the centre. Cyprus, Norway and Sweden are also giving financial backing.

A total of SFr1 billion has been earmarked by Switzerland to back projects led by the ten member states of the EU that joined in 2004.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup. Turkish Cypriots occupy the northern third of the island, while the Greek Cypriot community holds on to the wealthier south.

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