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article imageUN pressures Cyprus leaders to go back to talks

By AFP     Jan 30, 2019 in World

The UN Security Council on Wednesday pressed all sides in Cyprus to resume talks on reuniting the divided island as the United States warned that peacekeepers would not remain there without progress toward a settlement.

The council unanimously adopted a resolution that renewed for six months until July 31 the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, known as UNFICYP, one of the UN's longest-running peace operations.

"Perpetual peacekeeping missions are unacceptable," acting US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the council after the vote.

"UNFICYP and the UN's overall presence in Cyprus cannot be a substitute for, or be part of a landscape that lacks a path towards a political solution."

The United States, the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, has threatened to shut down long-standing missions, arguing that peacekeepers who stay on for years contribute to creating frozen conflicts.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of the island in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup.

Talks on reunifying Cyprus broke down in July 2017 when Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders failed to agree on compromises concerning power-sharing and security arrangements for the island.

Thousands of Turkish troops remain stationed in the north and Nicosia remains the world's last divided capital.

The resolution calls on Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to engage with Jane Holl Lute, a UN consultant who has been talking to the parties since July last year to try to agree on the basis for re-starting negotiations.

The council tasked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with the drafting of a report by April 15 on progress towards resuming negotiations that could set the stage for changes to the peacekeeping mission.

About 1,000 troops and police are deployed in Cyprus to maintain a ceasefire and monitor a buffer zone.

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