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Guterres deeply sorry, wishes the best for Cypriots north and south (Update 3)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres hopes to hear from the two sides after the Presidential elections

After ten days in Crans-Montana Switzerland, and around 15 hours of non-stop negotiations in the presence of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that went on into the early hours of Friday, the Conference on Cyprus ended in failure.

In a brief news conference at around 3.15am Cyprus time, Guterres announced that he was “deeply sorry to inform you that despite very strong commitment and the engagement of all the parties… the conference on Cyprus was closed without an agreement being reached”.

He expressed his deep gratitude to the leaders of the two communities the EU, Greece, Turkey and the UN team led by Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide, “and to wish the best for all the Cypriots north and south”.

Guterres said Eide had “done everything possible” to bring closer the positions of the different delegations. “Unfortunately an agreement was not possible and the conference was closed without managing to bring a solution to this long-lasting problem,” he added.

In response to questions, the UN chief said the conference was closed “but that does not mean that other initiatives cannot be developed in order to address the Cyprus problem but this conference was closed, unfortunately without results”.

He said the United Nations role was that of a facilitator and “we will always be at the disposal of the parties”, should they reach a point where they wanted to try again for a settlement “if that would be the case”.

According to Reuters, diplomats said Turkey had appeared to be offering little to Greek Cypriots wanting a full withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island, although the Greek Cypriots had indicated readiness to make concessions on Turkish Cypriot demands for a rotating presidency, the other key issue.

Guterres finally called a halt at 2 am  Swiss time after a session marred by yelling and drama, a source close to the negotiations said, according to Reuters.

He declined to elaborate on what exactly had caused the talks to collapse, but said there was still a wide gap between the two delegations on a number of questions.  “I would not isolate a particular issue,” Guterres said.

According to Reuters, the UNSG appeared tired and downcast as he announced the collapse of the talks to a handful of journalists at an impromptu news conference that lasted only three and a half minutes.


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