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Cyprus peace talks to begin again

Nicos Anastasiades (left) and Mustafa Akıncı (opposite him) met for the first time in two months at UN-facilitated talks

Two leaders agree to restart process next Thursday, after Turkish referendum

Cyprus’s two leaders restarted reunification talks after a two-month break on Tuesday in attempt to reinject momentum into the process.

Mustafa Akıncı, the Turkish Cypriot leader, and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades agreed to schedule four new meetings with the first on 20 April, just days after Turkey’s executive presidency referendum.

“I hope this new round of negotiations will take us to a point where we can say there are convergences that lead us to a Cyprus solution,” Mr Anastasiades told reporters after Tuesday’s three-hour session.

“I welcome the resumption of dialogue during which there was a fruitful exchange of views.”

The talks came to a standstill in February in a row over Greek Cypriot schools marking the anniversary of the 1950 “Enosis” referendum in support of union with Greece.

Mr Akıncı said the past two months had been “wasted” over the row.

“The next few months are very important,” he continued. “The Greek Cypriots will begin natural gas drilling work in the first week of July and I warned them on this matter,” he said.

But Mr Anastasiades said natural gas was not discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. “What we have repeatedly said … is that natural wealth belongs to the people of Cyprus,” he said.

He added that there was no time frame for a when a settlement should be reached but any solution could not “ignore the fears” of either community.

The two sides have been engaged in fragile peace talks since May 2015 that observers have seen as the best chance in years to reunify the island.

Much of the progress until now has been based on the strong personal rapport between the two leaders.

The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking Enosis.