An official says talks between the heads of Cyprus' Christian and Muslim communities and the leaders of the ethnically split island's Greek- and Turkish-speaking communities give "great hope" that religion can better contribute to peace.

Sweden's Peter Weiderud, who facilitated the meeting, says although religion has never been at the root of the Cyprus conflict, religion and the right to freely worship have become victims of it.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met Thursday with the heads of Cyprus' Orthodox Christian, Armenian, Maronite and Latin Catholic churches as well as the Turkish Cypriot Grand Mufti.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aimed at union with Greece. The meeting is believed to be the first of its kind.