November 11, 2016 / 11:52 PM / a year ago

Talks on uniting Cyprus make progress, to resume on November 20 - U.N.

MONT PELERIN, Switzerland (Reuters) - Talks on reuniting the divided island of Cyprus have achieved significant progress and will resume on Nov. 20, the United Nations said on Friday, at the end of a fifth straight day of negotiations in the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin.

A woman walks in front of Cypriot flag painted on a wall in capital Nicosia, Cyprus November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the round of talks between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci on Monday, saying they were both committed to trying to reach a deal this year.

“During these past five days, the chapter on territory and all other issues were discussed interdependently. Significant progress has been achieved,” the United Nations said in a brief statement released after 11 p.m. local time on Friday.

“Upon request of the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Anastasiades, it has been decided by the two leaders to take a recess and reconvene in Geneva on Sunday, 20 November 2016, to continue their deliberations from Mont Pelerin.”

An abandoned UN outpost is seen behind the barbed wire inside the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, Cyprus November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Cyprus’s 800,000 Greek Cypriots and approximately 220,000 Turkish Cypriots live on the divided island with a U.N- patrolled ceasefire line splitting the island east to west.

The island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. But friction between the two sides dates back at least a decade when Turkish Cypriots pulled out of a power-sharing government at perceived attempts by Greek Cypriots to limit their say.

A woman walks next to an abandoned military outpost near the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, Cyprus November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Anastasiades and Akinci are both moderates leading their respective communities and the negotiations are directed towards reuniting Cyprus as a loose federation of two constituent, largely self-governing states.

In addition to territorial swaps, Greek Cypriots who represent Cyprus in the European Union are adamant that a deal see the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the island.

Thousands of Turkish troops are stationed in Cyprus’s north, a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state recognised only by Ankara.

Writing by Tom Miles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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