Guterres not giving up on talks

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is ready for further meetings of the two sides at the UN or Cyprus, his deputy spokesperson  Farhan Haq told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

He praised the “face to face” meeting between President Nikos Christodoulides and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, saying that it was a very positive step for their further cooperation and encouraged the two sides to find acceptable ways of dialogue.

On whether Guterres plans to arrange a meeting with the two parties in September, Haq said: “The Secretary-General’s mission of good offices remained engaged in facilitating meetings and discussions at various levels and promoting contact and rapprochement between the communities”.

The Secretary-General “has maintained contact and dialogue with the parties, as have his senior advisors at United Nations Headquarters and during visits to the island, and his Deputy Special Adviser, and we will continue to do so in the coming period.”

Haq underlined that the work of the technical committees is very important and should be increased as it helps to settle many important issues.

“The continuity of the work of the technical committees following the change in Greek Cypriot leadership and the commitment of both sides after the elections to pick up the pace of the committees’ activities is welcomed.

“However, considering the many pressing issues that would benefit from intra-island cooperation, the Secretary-General says that the technical committees could do more”.

But Haq conceded there is a huge gap to narrow between the two sides.

“The underlying positions of the two sides on the peace process remain far apart; the Secretary-General says that the first face-to-face meeting of Mr Nikos Christodoulides and Mr Ersin Tatar was a positive step in establishing a connection between the two Cypriot leaders”.

“The Secretary-General encourages the two leaders to be proactive in seeking mutually acceptable modalities for dialogue at their level, as he believes this remains crucial for finding a mutually agreeable way forward.

“He also welcomes the direct channel of communication established between the two leaders as a means to build confidence and to exchange views on day-to-day issues of mutual concern”.