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Cyprus nearing ‘breakthrough’ – Hammond (updated)

British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said on Thursday he was optimistic Cyprus was nearing a “breakthrough” in resolving its four-decade-old partition and that his country was ready to give up its role as the island’s guarantor if that was what the two communities wanted.

“I’ve made several visits to Cyprus over the last few months, meeting members of both communities, and I am optimistic that we may be on the brink of a breakthrough in resolving this dispute,” Hammond told reporters in Athens.

New impetus was given to the island’s on-off peace process by the election of moderate Mustafa Akinci as Turkish Cypriot leader last May.

On Monday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara would fulfil its responsibilities to ensure the resolution this year of the dispute over Cyprus.

Hammond said Britain, Cyprus‘ former colonial ruler  and a guarantor of the island’s independence alongside Greece and Turkey, said had no interest in maintaining the current tripartite model.

“If the two communities in Cyprus agree a model that … requires Britain to play no role, we will be quite happy to play no role. If the model they develop requires Britain to play a role, then we are happy to consider playing any role the two communities ask us,” he said.

“What we want is to see a sustainable solution in Cyprus and we will everything in our power to bring that about.”