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UN Chief: Agreement ‘is within reach’

 

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says an agreement to reunify Cyprus “is within reach.”

The U.N. chief told a news conference Wednesday that he is “encouraged” by progress in negotiations between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on a peace accord.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters seeking to unite the Mediterranean island with Greece.

Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state in 1983, but only Turkey recognizes it and keeps 35,000 troops there. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2003, but only the south enjoys membership benefits.

The leaders are trying to build on momentum since the resumption of U.N.-brokered talks in May after a pause triggered by a feud over offshore oil and gas exploration rights.

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