Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders have made progress on the prickly core issues of putting the divided island back together again, U.N. special advisor Espen Barth Eide said.
He said in a statement that Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades met on Monday at the U.N.-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia "in a positive and results-oriented atmosphere."
"The leaders are now immersed in substantive negotiations. Their focus is on unresolved core issues … negotiators provided the leaders with an update … on a specific set of core issues across the chapters of governance, property and criteria on territory," Eide said.
Long-stalled U.N.-brokered peace, in what is seen as the best chance in years to reunify Cyprus after four decades of division, were launched on May 15.
Eide said the leaders were determined to keep up the pace. "Mr. Akıncı and Mr. Anastasiades discussed those issues at length in a pragmatic and constructive manner, making further progress."
Many believe the good chemistry between the two can create a climate of trust in order for an elusive peace accord to be reached. "With substantive negotiations now at the center of their work, Mr. Akıncı and Mr. Anastasiades reiterated their resolve to reach a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible," Eide said.
Key issues that have wrecked previous peace bids are deep-rooted disagreements on territorial adjustments, security, property rights and power sharing in a federal reunited Cyprus.
The two presidents are scheduled to resume where they left off on July 10.
Anastasiades also confirmed after Monday's session that progress had been made with Akıncı. "The U.N. announcement says everything. But I must admit it was very productive, progress has been made on important issues and the dialogue will continue."
Political tensions on the long-divided island have eased since talks resumed on May 15.
On May 28, leaders agreed on a five-step plan to resolve the Cyprus issue following a meeting hosted by Eide. These steps included opening more crossing points, interconnecting power grids, allowing cellphone interoperability on both sides of the island, resolving the issue of radio frequency conflicts and forming a joint committee on gender equality.
Peace talks were unilaterally suspended by Greek Cyprus last October after Turkey sent an exploratory ship on behalf of Turkish Cyprus for seismic research off the coast of Greek Cyprus.
The island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the northern one third and a Greek Cypriot government in the southern two-thirds of the island after a 1974 military coup by Greece was followed by an intervention by Turkey as a guarantor state. Border gates between Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus were opened on April 2003.
Turkish leaders have consistently affirmed that they are determined to bring a permanent resolution to the conflict on the divided island and have urged the international community to contribute to peace.