(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Rival leaders of divided Cyprus are ready to embrace the core issues of putting the island back together again, UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said after hosting talks on Wednesday.
He said in a statement that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades were "driven by their joint commitment to pursue their goal of reaching a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible".
The Norwegian diplomat made the comments after Anastasiades and Akinci met for the third time in the UN-controlled buffer zone.
The east Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
Long-stalled talks, seen as the best chance in years to reunify Cyprus after four decades, were launched on May 15.
Many believe the good chemistry between Anastasiades and Akinci can create a climate of trust that could lead to an elusive peace accord.
"Upon completing the baseline assessment, the leaders are now entering into substantive negotiations on unresolved core issues," Eide said.
"The leaders agreed that these negotiations will be the centrepiece of their work from now on and that they will be dealt with in a holistic and interdependent manner," he added.
Key issues that have wrecked previous peace efforts include deep-rooted disagreements on territorial adjustments, security, property rights and power sharing in a federal reunited Cyprus.
The two leaders are scheduled to pick up the pace on June 29 when prickly core issues will be on the table.
"Reaffirming the constructive atmosphere at the negotiating table, Mr Anastasiades and Mr Akinci expressed once again their resolve to move forward without delay and to achieve further progress," Eide said.
Anastasiades said that they would look at topics they agree on and also where differences exist.
He told reporters he was optimistic that it was "possible to have a happy conclusion".
"We are cautiously optimistic in order to see, when we enter the final negotiation, what it is that unites us, what it is that divides us, and what are those things that could unite us," he added.
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