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EU Commission chief urges divided Cyprus' rival leaders to seize chance for reunification deal

  • European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks to the media during a press conference after a meeting with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, July 16, 2015.  Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Cyprus for a two-day official visit. This is the first official visit of President Juncker to the island since he was elected as European Commission president. (AP Photos/Philippos Christou)

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks to the media during a press conference after a meeting with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, July 16, 2015. Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Cyprus for a two-day official visit. This is the first official visit of President Juncker to the island since he was elected as European Commission president. (AP Photos/Philippos Christou)  (The Associated Press)

  • European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades speaks to the media during a press conference after their meeting at the presidential palace in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, July 16, 2015.  Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Cyprus for a two-day official visit. This is the first official visit of President Juncker to the island since he was elected as European Commission president.  (AP Photos/Philippos Christou)

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades speaks to the media during a press conference after their meeting at the presidential palace in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, July 16, 2015. Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Cyprus for a two-day official visit. This is the first official visit of President Juncker to the island since he was elected as European Commission president. (AP Photos/Philippos Christou)  (The Associated Press)

  • European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks to the media during a press conference after a meeting with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus,, July 16, 2015. Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Cyprus for a two-day official visit. This is the first official visit of President Juncker to the island since he was elected as European Commission president.    (AP Photos/Philippos Christou)

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks to the media during a press conference after a meeting with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus,, July 16, 2015. Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Cyprus for a two-day official visit. This is the first official visit of President Juncker to the island since he was elected as European Commission president. (AP Photos/Philippos Christou)  (The Associated Press)

The European Commission's top official is urging the rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus not to let a "unique opportunity" to reunify the small island nation slip away.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said after talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday that momentum in renewed peace talks with the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci, shouldn't be lost.

Juncker praised Anastasiades for his determined stance in the talks that resumed in May.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Juncker said a Cyprus peace accord would be "good news for the entire European Union."