Cyprus leaders launch marathon peace talks



Cyprus leaders launch marathon peace talks Nicosia: Rival Cypriot leaders on Monday launched a series of day-long talks in an accelerated UN-led drive to try to reunify the island in 2010 after more than 35 years of division.

The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders say they are committed to finding a solution this year, while the United Nations is hoping 2010 will be the year for a Cyprus settlement.

After 16 months of sluggish negotiations, President Demetris Christofias, a Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat are stepping up the pace in the hope of securing a breakthrough.

They have agreed to meet six times for marathon talks over a three-week period, on January 11, 12, 13 and then again on 25, 26 and 27.

In the middle of the month during the break, Christofias is to fly to Athens for talks with the Greek government on the progress made and Talat is expected to hold contacts in Ankara about the next phase.

The leaders will aim to "accelerate convergences" on governance, power sharing, the economy and EU issues.

Governance and power sharing top the agenda as the Turkish Cypriots have tabled new proposals on a rotating presidency, veto rights, how votes should be weighted and on the makeup of the upper and lower houses in a federal Cyprus.

PTI