UK Foreign Secretary, Greek PM in Cyprus peace push 

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Prospects for the upcoming UN-led meeting on starting Cyprus reunification talks will be the main focus of UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s first official visit to Nicosia on Thursday.

While in Cyprus he will meet President Nicos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, ahead of an UN-led conference scheduled for March.

In the first Foreign Secretary visit to the island since 2016, he will reiterate the UK’s support for achieving a just and lasting settlement of the division of the island and reaffirm the UK’s commitment to the bilateral relationship during talks with President Anastasiades.

Ahead of the visit, the Foreign Secretary said: “The UK and Cyprus have deep, historic ties, spanning education, defence, trade and – most importantly – our people. The UK is committed to supporting our friends in Cyprus in the pursuit of lasting peace in this region.

“We will be working closely with our Cypriot partners to drive forward a successful resolution to the conflict in Cyprus at UN talks in the next few weeks.”

During his contacts, Raab will also emphasise the UK’s commitment to supporting all the island’s leaders in their efforts to negotiate a settlement.

He will visit the British military serving with the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) at their base in the historic Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN Buffer Zone.

He will meet the Head of UNFICYP and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, to discuss the upcoming UN-led talks.

Following the visit of Raab, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is due on the island Monday.

Mitsotakis will pay a working visit to Cyprus to further coordinate the Nicosia – Athens position at the informal five-party conference that the UN Secretary-General intends to convene.

The UN is planning to host President Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar and Government officials from the three guarantor powers of Cyprus (UK, Greece, Turkey) for talks in New York.

Reunifying divided Cyprus in line with the long-established formula of federation is off the table in any future peace talks and any deal should be negotiated between two equal sovereign states, Turkey’s foreign minister said Tuesday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks come ahead of UN chief Antonio Guterres convening a conference next month to revive dormant peace talks.

Cavusoglu said it would be pointless to keep rehashing the idea of a federated Cyprus made up of two separate zones, which has failed to produce any results over five decades of negotiations.

He said Greek Cypriots must come to terms with the “de facto situation” on the island and negotiate based on “sovereign equality” that would lead to a two-state deal.

UN-facilitated Cyprus talks are based on reunifying the island on a federal solution.