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UN chief want to listen to leaders, not impose way forward

File Photo: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (centre) with the two leaders

The dinner hosted by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres for President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will be held at the UN headquarters in New York at 7pm Sunday (2am Cyprus time), it was announced on Friday.

An unnamed UN official cited by the Cyprus News Agency said the meeting will take place in Guterres’ 38th-floor office, and its goal is “to discuss the Cyprus-problem talks and the way forward”.

In addition to the three men, in the room will be UN special adviser Espen Barth Eide and one minute-keeper from each side – in all likelihood the two chief negotiators Andreas Mavroyiannis and Ozdil Nami.

According to the official, a photo-op will precede the dinner, and the UN team is preparing for the possibility for remarks at the end of the dinner.

A diplomatic source said the secretary-general’s intention is not to impose the way forward on the two leaders but to listen to their views, with regard to both where things stand and, crucially, the next steps.

Anastasiades is expected to arrive in New York late on Saturday night, and will depart for Washington on Monday morning.

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Thursday that Anastasiades’ speaking commitment on Monday at a convention of the American-Jewish Committee, before a crowd of 2.500, was “arranged two years ago”.

The Cyprus peace talks have come perilously close to a complete breakdown after days of Eide-facilitated haggling over the agenda of a second conference on Cyprus in Geneva, envisioned as the final decisive step for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.

The talks stumbled at a leaders’ meeting in Nicosia on May 17, when both leaders agreed to the need for a resumption of the Geneva conference but Anastasiades proposed that security, guarantees, and territory be tackled first, in isolation, before the open-ended conference touches on other issues for as long as it takes.

This was rejected by Akinci, who countered that the agreement has always been that all issues are discussed interdependently.

Last Friday, Eide officially announced ending his efforts to facilitate agreement between the two sides over the issue and said he would consult with Guterres on the way forward.

On Wednesday, Guterres invited the two leaders to a dinner on Sunday that is hoped to produce agreement on the resumption of the Geneva conference on Cyprus.

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