NICOSIA, Cyprus – The rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus are still "far apart" on holding a final peace summit next month that would aim for an overall deal reunifying the island as a federation, a United Nations envoy said Thursday.
Espen Barth Eide said after a second day of meeting separately with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci that getting them to agree on a summit is "proving to be very difficult."
Eide, who is mediating talks, said both leaders want a summit in Geneva, Switzerland to clinch a deal that would end more than four decades of division. But he said difficulties are appearing as discussions go into the details of structuring the summit.
"It's almost getting more complicated the more details we see, which I think is sad because for the first time in living memory there is a will by both leaders to actually dedicate themselves to a final conference on all issues," Eide said.
The envoy said he will continue to meet with the leaders.
"Nobody wants to end it," Eide said. "As long as I have meetings there's hope."
A key hurdle to a deal is how the 35,000 troops that Turkey keeps in the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriot north will figure into security arrangements after reunification.
The troops have been deployed since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.
Greek Cypriots see Turkish troops as a threat and want them gone as part of a reunification deal, with security overseen by an international police force. The minority Turkish Cypriots consider them as their sole security guarantee. Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Davutoglu said in an interview Sunday that a Turkish troop presence is necessary to any peace deal.
Anastasiades wants a summit to first reach agreement on security. Akinci wants all issues on the table as part of a give-and-take process.