The first day of fresh Cyprus peace talks aimed at reunifying the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities was promising, said the United Nations political affairs under-secretary on Wednesday.
Jeffrey D. Feltman, a United States diplomat, gave a press conference at the Crans-Montana Swiss Alpine resort where the UN-backed talks are taking place with the participation of the Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mustafa Akinci.
Feltman told the press that what he had heard so far that morning filled him with hope and the conviction that the leaders of both communities had come with the determination to overcome their differences and arrive at a solution.
Also in attendance at this latest round of talks were the foreign ministers three nations that have veto power over a final outcome: Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Feltman said that UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres was due in Crans-Montana to encourage the negotiating parties towards a solution, following two years of peace dialogues that have largely revolved around the topic of post-reunification security.
The last round of discussions collapsed in Jan.
UN special advisor to Cyprus, Espen Bath Eide, also said he had a positive perception of the talks so far.
He said there had been an exchange of ideas in relation to elements of the current security situation that Greek Cypriots and the Greek government want to dismantle _ the 35,000 Turkish troops currently deployed to the Mediterranean island.
Up until now, the Turkish Cypriot negotiating team had rejected the possibility that those troops would be returned to Ankara.
The 1960 Cyprus peace treaties, signed when the UK relinquished control of the country, gave the three guarantor nations the right to deploy soldiers to the island should they deem it necessary to preserve stability.
In 1974, Turkey invaded the northern part of the island, fearing that a Greek coup d'état could see it integrated into the sovereignty of mainland Greece.
The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, recognized only by Ankara, was proclaimed in 1983.
The Greek region of Cyprus is a member of the European Union, giving the entire island a de facto EU status.
For decades, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots lived divided by a UN peace wall through the center of the country.