Nicosia: US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that an end to the four-decade division of Cyprus was "within reach" as he visited both sides of the Mediterranean island to support peace talks.
"In recent months it has become clear that the ground really is shifting. And tangible progress is being made," Kerry said after separate talks with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders.
"I am more convinced than ever that a resolution to the longstanding division of Cyprus is within reach, and with it, the many benefits of unity for all the people of the island," he said.
Hopes have grown for a peace deal since leaders in the Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot-held north resumed UN-brokered negotiations in May, with meetings in recent weeks intensifying to their highest level in years.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
Kerry met with both Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades, who embarked on a new round of peace talks towards reunification after Akinci won elections in April.
"Both leaders underscored something we strongly believe in the United States: not only will a just, comprehensive, and lasting solution for Cyprus have an enormously positive impact on the island, it will lift up the entire region," Kerry said.
"A united Cyprus will stand as a beacon of hope in a tumultuous part of the world at a time when people need that beacon. It will be a model for other places in search of a peaceful, multi-ethnic future," he said.
"With a lasting settlement to this decades-long conflict, Cyprus could also become a regional energy and commercial hub," Kerry added.
"We believe this is Cyprus`s moment."