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UN runs aground in informal Cyprus talks, new round planned

GENEVA — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots failed to make headway in informal talks on the future of their divided island nation, but talks will continue and "I do not give up."

The United Nations chief invested his political capital in overseeing three days of talks in Geneva aimed at re-igniting dormant negotiations to reunify Cyprus. But Turkish Cypriots in the island’s breakaway north insist on a deal based on two separate states, which Greek Cypriots reject as formalizing partition.

The talks were headed by Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades. The gathering was also attended by the foreign ministers of Cyprus' three "guarantors" — Greece, Turkey and former colonial power Britain. It is the latest attempt by the U.N. to revitalize the peace process since another round of negotiations collapsed in 2017.

Guterres said a new round of informal talks are planned, possibly in the next two to three months.

"The truth is that in the end of our efforts, we have not yet found enough common ground to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations in relation to the settlement of the Cyprus problem,” Guterres said. “But I do not give up."

He summarized the two sides’ positions: The Turkish Cypriots believe that decades of efforts to ensure a "bi-zonal, bicommunal federation" have been exhausted and they now deserve "equal international status" like that enjoyed by the Nicosia government run by Greek Cypriots in the south.

The Greek Cypriots held to their position for a federation “with political equality on the basis of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," Guterres said.

"As you can imagine, this was not an easy meeting," he said. "To square the circle is an impossibility in geometry, but it is very common in politics."

Guterres said he would report to the Security Council on the different positions taken in the meeting.

Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press