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  1. ITV Report

Cyprus peace talks: Settlement 'in reach' to end partition, says Boris Johnson

A couple walk past a UN guard post at the fence that divides the Greek and Turkish Cypriots areas. Credit: AP

A settlement to end the partition of Cyprus after more than four decades of division is "in reach", Boris Johnson has said.

The Foreign Secretary is due to join a United Nations-led conference in Geneva aimed at reunifying the island, along with representatives of Greece and Turkey - the island's other two "guarantor" powers.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been in discussions in Switzerland since Monday in an attempt to clear the ground for an agreement.

The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded in response to a coup by Greek Cypriots aimed at uniting with Greece.

A Turkish army tank passes the Saray Hotel in the Turkish section of Nicosia in 1974. Credit: AP

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson said: "I welcome the continued courage and commitment that has been shown by both sides. The UK fully supports the settlement process and is ready and willing to help in any way it can.

"I hope that all those involved will approach the talks with a sense of openness and flexibility. I believe that if approached in this light, a solution is in reach to bring lasting peace to Cyprus".

UN peacekeepers continue to patrol the buffer zone between the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north - recognised only by Turkey - and the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot south.

Why it will be difficult to achieve a settlement

  • A key issue to be resolved in the talks is security
  • More than 30,000 Turkish troops are still in the north
  • Any settlement is likely to involve the two communities sharing power
  • Each side has previously struggled to agree on territorial control
  • Talks between Anastasiades and Akinci almost broke down last year
  • Any settlement will have to be supported in two separate referenda
  • A previous agreement in 2004 was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (centre) with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (left) and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the beginning of Cyprus peace talks. Credit: AP
The 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus was captured exclusively by ITN. Credit: ITN
Turkish troops land in Cyprus in 1974. Credit: ITN

UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said on Wednesday that while a final deal was unlikely to be agreed this week the framework for a settlement could be put in place.

"So don't expect that we will be walking home from Geneva - or rather flying - to Cyprus with a comprehensive settlement in our hands. But we will go home with a sense that it is coming," he told reporters.

"We have dealt with some of the most difficult issues. We have touched upon almost all of them, we have solved many of them, and we are close to solving some other issues."

A man sits in front of the fence that divides the Greek and Turkish Cypriots areas in Nicosia. Credit: AP