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Ban tells Cypriots wants progress by October.

* Harming Turkey's bid to join the European Union * U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called on leaders of divided Cyprus to overcome their differences by October with a view to ending a conflict harming Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Ban met Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu in Geneva to revive foundering negotiations before Cyprus assumes the rotating EU presidency in mid-2012.

"I have every expectation that by October the leaders will be able to report they have reached convergence on all core issues and that we will meet that month in New York," Ban said in a statement read out in the presence of the two leaders.

Ban, who also met the Cypriot leaders in January in a bid to add momentum to the talks, said the sides had worked steadily to take the negotiations forward since then.

"But progress has been far too slow," he said.

Eroglu and Christofias cancelled separate scheduled news conferences. No reason was given, but the U.N. has been at pains to keep the rhetoric down on a highly emotive subject which has normally ended with shadow boxing through the media.

But in an implicit acknowledgement that the present system had its flaws, Ban said the United Nations was prepared to offer enhanced involvement, without prejudice to the central principle that it was a Cypriot initiative.

In principle, both sides agree to reunite Cyprus as a bizonal federation, but the two sides have been unable to reconcile differences ranging from re-drawing existing boundaries, to property claims by thousands uprooted in conflict.

If the sides are able to reach convergence on all core issues -- defined by the UN as EU issues, economy, governance, property, security and territory -- it would pave the way towards convening a final, international conference, Ban said.

Diplomats say EU and economy issues have made good progress, some convergence has been reached on governance, but property, security and territory issues could be potential deal breakers.

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Publication:Financial Mirror (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Jul 8, 2011
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