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article imageCyprus rivals reject each other's peace maps: Turkey

By AFP     Jan 14, 2017 in Politics

Rival Cypriot delegations have failed to agree on maps for new borders on the divided island state, each slamming the other's proposals as "unacceptable", Turkey's foreign minister said Saturday, after peace talks stalled.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot delegation had delivered letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "saying they would not accept the maps they had seen".

A week of UN-brokered talks in Geneva between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had sparked optimism that an agreement to reunify the island could be at hand.

For the first time since the Cyprus was divided, each side unveiled their vision on Wednesday of how they saw the borders of a reunified country.

But hopes stalled Friday, with the rival sides in the decades-old dispute at loggerheads over the future of Turkish troops on the divided island -- and its boundaries.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci "strongly stressed that the Greek offer could not be taken seriously, (and) that no Turkish Cypriot would accept this map", Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.

"The same goes for us," he added.

The thorny issue centres on how the boundaries are redrawn, including around the once Greek Cypriot town of Morphou on the northern coast.

Anastasiades has warned that there can be no deal without a full return of Morphou, while some in the Turkish Cypriot camp have declared its return a non-starter.

The maps swapped Wednesday will not be disclosed publicly, with the UN hoping that both sides eventually agree on a compromise version.

But Turkey has cast a shadow over the peace talks, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying Friday that Greek Cypriots still have "different expectations".

"These maps are not open for discussion," Cavusoglu said.

"This is neither the time nor the place," he said, adding that other more pressing issues would have to be resolved first.

One such issue is troop deployment. Cyprus's so-called guarantor powers -- Britain, Greece and Turkey -- were at the UN on Thursday to talk about security, a bedrock issue in the peace process aimed at creating a two-zone federation.

Turkish Cypriot leaders have agreed in principle to return some of the land controlled by Greek Cypriots before the 1974 invasion by Turkish troops, which came in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

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