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UN "Cautiously Optimistic" on Cyprus Negotiations

If Cyprus' people and leaders do not want a solution, then "it won't happen", said UN Secretary General Special Advisor on Cyprus Alexander Downer.

However, the UN is "cautiously optimistic" that the ongoing face-to-face negotiations between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat can succeed, he said yesterday's meeting at the Presidential Palace with Mr. Christofias.

"If the leaders and the people want a solution, then anything can be achieved. If the people don’t want a solution, it won’t happen," he said.

The first round of negotiations is due to end tomorrow with the last meeting between the leaders before the summer break. Mr. Downer said he is under "no illusions" that the second round will be a difficult process, adding that the more important and difficult issues will be negotiated last.

"As you move on, you are dealing more and more with the more important issues of divergence. The challenge is to reach convergence on all issues across the board. So, presumably the leaders will leave the hardest issues to resolve last. That’s inevitable I suppose in any international or national negotiation," he said.

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