Cyprus slams US envoy over Turkish invasion comment

The Cyprus government on Wednesday denounced as "unacceptable" a comment by the American ambassador that it said hampered the resumed UN-backed peace process aimed at reunifying the divided island.

Nicosia: The Cyprus government on Wednesday denounced as "unacceptable" a comment by the American ambassador that it said hampered the resumed UN-backed peace process aimed at reunifying the divided island.

Nicosia said it will "discuss" with Washington the remark by US Ambassador John M. Koenig that the Cyprus problem does not originate from the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Speaking at an open discussion at the University of Cyprus on Tuesday, Koenig said: "I personally do not regard the Cyprus issue as essentially a problem of invasion and occupation. If you don`t like it, I can`t help it."

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told reporters Koenig`s comment was "unacceptable" and "fully contradicts historical facts".

"Such statements create problems in the dialogue that is under way, and to a great extent it is such statements which have prevented progress on the Cyprus problem for years," he said.

Koenig is leaving the island in August and is set to retire.

He spoke at time of renewed optimism for a long-elusive Cyprus peace deal with two pro-solution leaders at the helm -- Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and recently elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

The two will resume UN-brokered talks on Thursday when they are expected to announce confidence-building measures to promote a climate of reconciliation.

It is reported they will announce the opening of more crossing points along the 180-kilometre (110-mile) UN-patrolled ceasefire line.

The first crossing points -- to encourage the movement of people and communication between the communities -- opened in 2003 and there have been only a handful of new access points since.

The ceasefire line has divided Cyprus since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.