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Cyprus Talks

Leaders aim at bridging differences by end of the year (updated)

The two leaders are determined to tackle the current disagreements between the two sides without affecting their rights, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday, aiming at reaching a solution this year.

Returning to the presidential palace after a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Anastasiades it was conducted in a positive climate.

The two sides have scheduled intensive consultations between their negotiators in May and leaders will meet again on the 27th.

Anastasiades said there was “determination to tackle the current differences and difficulties in a way that would address one community’s concerns without affecting the rights of the other.”

The president said the leaders’ objective was to “achieve definitive convergences that would lead us to a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem within the year.”

Akinci said there were difficulties but distance was being covered.

“We understand each other better and are progressing towards the goal we have set: a federal structure, bi-zonal, bi-communal, that will take into account the interests and sensitivities of both communities,” he was quoted as saying.

The Turkish Cypriot leader said distance was being covered despite the differences between the two communities “and I hope that, as the other side has said, we can turn 2016 into a year of a solution and create a new state of affairs where all sides, and our region, will be winners.”

Akinci said there was ample time, there was desire, and determination, and if the sides continued the same way, it was feasible to reach a positive result.

During Thursday’s meeting, the Greek Cypriot side also expressed concerns over the current situation in Turkey.

“But the assurance was that there is no question of a change in Turkey’s intention to contribute towards a solution of the Cyprus problem,” the president said.

Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Thursday that he was stepping down as leader of Turkey’s  ruling AK Party and therefore as prime minister, bowing to President Tayyip Erdogan’s drive to create a powerful executive presidency.

Davutoglu’s departure plunges the NATO member into political uncertainty just as Europe needs its help in curbing a migration crisis and Washington needs support in fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

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