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UN envoy: Cyprus peace talks 'on track'

Peace talks over the division of Cyprus are "on track," the UN envoy has said. European Commission President Juncker said the talks represent the "very last chance" after two earlier inconclusive sessions in November.

The three days of talks between Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (pictured above, left) wrap up on Wednesday.

During the meeting, both sides presented maps of their proposals for the boundaries of a future bi-zonal federation on the eastern Mediterranean island. A key dispute surrounds the iconic town of Morphou on the northern coast.

Still work to do

Espen Barth Eide (pictured above, right) - the former Norwegian foreign minister overseeing the talks - said there was "still work to do."

"We have dealt with some of the most difficult issues. We have touched upon almost all of them, we have solved many of them and we are close to resolving some other issues," he said.

Juncker on the plane

Jean-Claude Juncker meanwhile said on Wednesday that the current talks were the "very last chance" to reunite the island.

"It's risky, but when it's about peace you have to take risks. When it's about peace, those that take no risks are taking the greater risk," he told a news conference in the Maltese capital Valletta at the start of Malta's six-month EU presidency.

"I really think that, without overdramatizing what is happening in Geneva, that this is the very last chance to see [a solution for] the island being imposed in a normal way," Juncker said.

Schweiz Zyperngespräche in Genf (Reuters/S. Di Nolfi)

The Cyprus Peace Talks at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, January 9, 2017

The European Commission President travels to Cyprus on Thursday as an observer to the talks if all goes well.

Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops invaded in July 1974 in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

An international conference chaired by the UN's new secretary general, Antonio Guterres, and attended by representatives of the island's three guarantor powers - Greece, Turkey and former colonial ruler Britain - plus Juncker is also planned for Thursday.

Watch video 07:19

Interview with Mustafa Akinci, President of Northern Cyprus

jbh/ksb (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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