Turkey, UK want settlement for Cyprus issue in Geneva


Turkey and the U.K. have agreed upon the importance of reaching a settlement on the divided island of Cyprus ahead of next week's summit in the Swiss capital, Geneva, according to a Downing Street statement on Saturday.

Prime Minister Theresa May called Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Saturday to discuss the peace talks, the statement said.

A government spokesman underlined Erdoğan and May "agreed that the Geneva meeting was a real opportunity to secure a better future for Cyprus."

"They [leaders] agreed on the importance of reaching a successful resolution to the Cyprus peace talks in Geneva, noting that this was a real opportunity to secure a better future for Cyprus and to guarantee stability in the wider region," the statement said.

The British premier also expressed her sincere condolences over the recent terror attacks in Istanbul and Izmir.

The statement added May was looking forward to her visit to Turkey.

"They wished each other a happy and peaceful New Year and the prime minister said she looked forward to visiting Turkey early this year," it said.

The Cyprus reunification talks will start on Jan. 9 in Geneva.

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı said last week the reunification referendum could be held in mid-2017 pending an agreement in Geneva.

If a deal is reached on territorial changes, negotiators are expected to announce a date for a final summit between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders and three other states involved in the process as guarantor countries: Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.

Reunification talks resumed in May 2015, and both sides have repeatedly expressed optimism that a solution would be found by the end of last year.

Once a final agreement is reached, it would be put to both communities in a referendum.

A UN-brokered peace deal was approved by Turkish Cypriots in 2004 but rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.

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