Cyprus Leaders Aim for End-of-Year Deal

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, center, Turkish Cypriots leader Mustafa Akinci, left, and U.N.-appointed member of the Committee on Missing Persons Paul-Henri Arni, right, walk at a laboratory of missing Greek and Turkish Cypriots where identification of unearthed remains takes place, near the U.N.-controlled, derelict Nicosia airport on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. The U.N. said that during their visit, the two leaders recorded a video message to be broadcast to both sides of the divided island appealing for more information on the whereabouts of the missing in order to expedite the committee’s work. Some 1,500 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriots vanished during intercommunal fighting in the 1960s and Turkey’s invasion in 1974 that was triggered by a coup aiming to unite Cyprus with Greece. The Committee on Missing Persons has so far unearthed around 1,000 sets of remains and identified just over 600. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA — In the latest developments in the ongoing talks to resolve the illegal occupation of Cyprus, the rival leaders of Cyprus say they are committed to stepping up talks to hopefully reach a reunification deal by the year’s end.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci, say they’re pleased with progress they’ve made after exactly one year of talks. The leaders said in a joint statement Sunday that they’re determined to show the “necessary will and courage” to overcome the differences they acknowledged still remain.

They said any deal must take into account the concerns of both communities on the island that was cleaved in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup aiming at union with Greece.

The leaders said a reunification deal would also contribute to stability and cooperation in the region.