Cyprus’ Religious Leaders Urge Church’s Restoration

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 file photo, UN soldiers walk by the abandoned buildings inside the UN buffer zone, Green Line, that divided the Greek, south, and Turkish Cypriots, north, controlled areas in the divided capital Nicosia in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

NICOSIA (AP) — The Christian and Muslim leaders in ethnically divided Cyprus are urging for the speedy repair of a 15th century church inside a United Nations-controlled buffer zone cutting across the capital Nicosia, after it partly collapsed.

Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Mufti Talip Atalay and the leaders of the Maronite, Armenian and Latin churches on Friday repeated a joint plea to restore St. James Church and the nearby 17th century church of St. George.

The leaders said they “stand together as brothers” to ensure that all places of worship are protected.

The churches are situated in a disputed area within the buffer zone, where work crew access is restricted.

The religious leaders expressed hope progress can be made when the rival and Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders meet later this month.