UN dinner fails to set date for Cyprus talks

The two Cypriot leaders on April 2 failed to set a date to restart stalled peace talks on reunifying the island after meeting for dinner in the U.N.-controlled buffer zone, the United Nations said.

The dinner was hosted by U.N. envoy Espen Barth Eide for Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı, who met for the first time since talks were suspended in February.

A U.N. statement issued afterwards said more “groundwork” needed to be done after the two leaders “had an open and constructive exchange about the challenges experienced over the last months.” 
It said the pair “exchanged ideas about the way ahead.” 

“As the two leaders will be abroad in the coming days… Mr Eide, will be continuing his interaction with them in order to lay the groundwork for the resumption of the negotiations as soon as possible,” said the statement.    

The four-hour dinner was held at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the buffer zone in the divided capital, Nicosia.
Outside the venue, scores of Greek and Turkish Cypriots chanted for a “solution now.” 

Anastasiades and Akıncı have been engaged in fragile peace talks since May 2015 that observers saw as the best chance in years to reunify the island.

But the U.N.-backed process came to a standstill in February in a row over the GreekCypriot parliament’s decision to commemorate the 1950 “Enosis” referendum, in which 96 percent of Greek Cypriots voted for the island to be annexed to Greece.

Since the bill passed, a climate of trust between the sides has deteriorated, with each blaming the other for the impasse.

The Greek Cypriot MPs are expected to amend the bill, allowing the education minister, rather than parliament, to decide on such issues, AFP reported. 

The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops intervened in the northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

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