Britain's Hammond hopeful of Cyprus 'breakthrough'

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says his government is optimistic a new round of talks in war-divided Cyprus could finally produce a breakthrough.

Hammond, visiting Athens Thursday, said Britain was willing to give up its role as guarantor power of the island nation that it has retained since its independence in 1960.

He told reporters he was "optimistic that we may be on the brink of a breakthrough in resolving this dispute."

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

International mediators say ongoing talks between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have achieved progress.

Hammond is due to travel on to Turkey later Thursday.

Greece and Turkey also remain guarantor powers.