UN Chief Joins Cyprus Peace Talks

UN Chief Joins Cyprus Peace Talks

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday joined high-level talks to reunify ethnically-divided Cyprus in a bid to brush aside obstacles standing in the way of a peace deal.

Guterres said in unscripted remarks that "the emotional and rational" Mediterranean sides of Greeks and Turks are a strength that could be used to resolve problems holding back an agreement, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to disclose details of the meeting.

Two days of talks at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana have made no real progress on the core issue of the island's future security that could unlock an overall peace accord.

Guterres is sounding out the island's Greek Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and top diplomats from Cyprus' "guarantors" — Greece, Turkey and Britain — on ways to bridge gaps preventing progress.

Turkey is rebuffing Greek and Greek Cypriot calls to remove all troops from breakaway northern Cyprus after the island is reunified as a federation. It insists that any peace accord should grant Turkish citizens the right to relocate and transfer money, services and goods to the European Union member island.

Although Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, only the Greek Cypriot southern part that is the seat of the island's internationally recognized government enjoys full benefits.

The island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup staged by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey has since stationed more than 35,000 troops in the north.

Turkey and the minority Turkish Cypriots want at least some of the troops to remain and enforce the peace after reunification. Turkey also wants to keep some form of military rights accorded to the "guarantors" under Cyprus' 1960 constitution.

Greece and the Greek Cypriots want military rights abolished and all Turkish troops removed, replaced instead by a U.N. Security Council-backed international police force.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said before the start of talks Friday that what's being sought is a compromise deal benefiting all sides.

"We won't allow anyone to ask for all or nothing," Kotzias said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday scolded Greece and Greek Cypriots to "wake up from their dream" that Ankara will withdraw all of its troops from Cyprus and give up military rights there as part of any agreement.

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Associated Press writer Elena Becatoros in Athens contributed to this report.

(KA)