UN chief calls off Cyprus conference

Published April 21, 2012

| Associated Press

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders have not made sufficient progress during talks on reunifying Cyprus to call an international conference at this time.

Ban's spokesman made the announcement Saturday afternoon following the secretary-general's meeting Friday with Alexander Downer, the U.N. special adviser on Cyprus, and telephone calls earlier Saturday with Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state in the north in 1983, but only Turkey recognizes it and keeps 35,000 troops there.

Ban has been pressing the two leaders to reach a settlement, and Downer said last month he had planned to call an international conference by early May, bringing together Britain, Greece and Turkey with the aim of putting the finishing touches on an accord.

But Downer said the two sides have not yet converged closely enough on key issues. He said talks are stalled on how executive power would be shared under an envisioned federation and on how to deal with private property lost during the invasion.

Ban's spokesman said that on the basis of the meeting with Downer on Friday, "the secretary-general shared his assessment that there is not the sufficient progress on core issues that would provide a basis for calling an international conference at this time."

"He urged the two sides to take bold and decisive action in order to move the process forward," the spokesman said.

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