U.N. Reports Progress in Cyprus Talks

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Rival Greek- and Turkish- Cypriot leaders made "encouraging progress" in two days of talks on reuniting the divided Mediterranean island, U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.

The U.N. secretary general brought together Demetris Christofias, head of the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government, and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, for two days of talks at a retreat in the New York suburbs on Sunday and Monday.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied the northern third in response to a Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia aimed at union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

"The sides have made some encouraging progress during these two days on some of the remaining core issues," Ban told a press conference at the U.N. headquarters with Christofias and Eroglu at his side.

Praising the "positive" signs, Ban said: "This has given me confidence that a comprehensive settlement can be achieved. Both leaders have assured me that they believe that they can finalize a deal."

He added though that "there is still work to be done" and that the leaders had committed to intensive talks over the next two months in a bid to reach a deal before a similar meeting scheduled for January.

"By then, I expect the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem to have been resolved so that we can move to the multilateral conference shortly thereafter," Ban said.

The two sides face growing pressure from the United Nations and European Union to reach an agreement. The key sticking points have included territorial adjustments, security arrangements and property rights.

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