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'Enhanced' UN Role in Peace Talks - UNSG

Cyprus leaders Demetris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu have agreed to an enhanced UN role in a summit with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said the UNSG in comments after the meeting in Geneva July 7th.

Progress in talks over the last three months has been far too slow, and the UNSG said that while the negotiations must be Cypriot-led and Cypriot-owned, the leaders have accepted a stronger UN role and an intensive period of negotiations when they get back to the island.

Ban Ki-moon stopped short of suggesting outright arbitration, which politicians on the National Council have rejected as unacceptable pressure.

The next meeting between the leaders and the UNSG will be in October, when Ban Ki-moon has "every expectation that...the leaders will be able to report that they have reached convergence on all core issues."

"I have also raised with both the leaders the importance of looking ahead at the objective rather than focusing on the problem in minute detail," said Ban Ki-moon.

By October, Cyprus negotiations would be close to their conclusion and would allow Ban Ki-moon to give a positive report to the Security Council on the matter, he said.

"It would also pave the way for me to work with the parties towards convening a final, international conference," said Ban Ki-moon.

The leaders also agreed to begin building support for a comprehensive agreement amid public weariness on both sides: "Both leaders must renew hope and enthusiasm for a solution. They have acknowledged the need to begin to prepare their respective communities for the compromises required for a settlement and the prospect of living together in a united Cyprus," said Ban Ki-moon.

Political parties have reacted to the announcement with concern. DIKO issued a statement saying that the aim is to upgrade the UN's role in talks and there is a tactical game afoot. The UN once again avoided focusing on the basic reason for the stagnation of direct negotiations, which is the insistence of the Turkish side in a confederation solution, says DIKO.

European Party EVROKO said that it is deeply concerned and that President Christofias has not been consistent in his policy of not accepting deadlines and arbitration. The outcome of the Geneva meeting is a road map with defined channels and a pre-determined outcome on Cyprus. Cyprus property talks are now history, said EVROKO MP Demetris Syllouris.

Any significant breakthroughs in the talks are seen as unlikely here, with the National Council keeping a tight leash on President Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu still negotiating along the lines of a two-state solution.

The UN is trying to revive the talks because according to UN Special Advisor Alexander Downer, in the last three months negotiations have moved disappointingly slowly.

"They would have stopped if they'd moved more slowly. The last three months were the worst three months since we started these negotiations in September 2008," he said from Geneva.

On June 29th, Christofias and Eroglu had another face-to-face meeting, but an expected agreement on the police force and international treaties rules in a federal state was not announced.

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