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Cypriot talks resume, fresh hope

Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders have re-launched talks on ending the Mediterranean island's division after a break of nearly two years. The dynamics have changed with oil and gas finds in offshore waters.

Long-stalled peace talks resumed on divided Cyprus on Tuesday, with Greek Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu expected to ratify a procedural document.

It would outline the parameters of a planned federation – a different approach from inconclusive talks of past years. The plan foresees Cyprus as a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation linked by one central government.

Cypriot television showed negotiators from both sides meeting Tuesday inside the island's UN-controlled buffer zone, at the now defunct Nicosia airport.

Negotiators to visit Athens, Ankara

The chief negotiator for the Greek Cypriots will be Andreas Mavroyiannis as counterpart to Eroglu. Representing the UN is its chief of mission, Lisa Buttenheim.

A spokesman for the Greek Cypiot government said the chief negotiators would visit both Athens and Ankara to push the process forward.

Recent finds of untapped gas and oil riches offshore have raised hopes that a once frosty talks climate will transform into reconciliation.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied Cyprus' northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.

ipj/tj (AFP, dpa, AP)

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