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Property issue back on the peace talks agenda.

Byline: Stefanos Evripidou

THE TWO leaders will move on to discuss the contentious property issue today after failing to conclude talks on the federal executive during yesterday's direct talks.

President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met for three hours yesterday at the UN's Good Offices where they discussed the external relations of a united Cyprus for at least the second half of their meet.

During the first half, according to the UN's Special Adviser Alexander Downer, the two had a tE[logical not]te-Ea-tE[logical not]te, along with their aides. It is believed the two leaders spoke in private about the controversial and topical issue of the federal executive which has been at the heart of some fiery TV shows and news reports in the last week.

Ever since Christofias submitted a revised proposal on a rotating presidency, where the President and Vice-President are elected separately but from a common electoral roll, using weighted votes for the election of the Turkish Cypriot candidate, the issue has been given a large amount of coverage and criticism in the Greek Cypriot press and among party officials, particularly from coalition partner DIKO.

Downer said the two leaders had entered "a period of contemplation" on the executive while they talk about external relations.

"They have a bit of time to think about some of the ideas that have been put on the table there," he said, adding, "We will see how it goes".

The Australian diplomat did not rule out a return to the executive in the coming weeks, noting "these are big issues and different proposals come forward". If the issue proves too big to overcome then the question of the federal executive will have to be moved to the "third basket" of issues where there is no convergence, and a give-and-take process is expected.

According to Talat's press website, the leaders were expected to finalise discussion on the executive yesterday, something which they appeared not to do. Asked whether they made good progress, Downer replied that the best answer to that was that "they're exploring different ideas" and "making steady progress".

He highlighted that during the second phase of talks, the two leaders were exploring a lot of different options on how to handle the different issues. "I would say it's a productive process," he said, adding that the leaders needed time to think about, work through and discuss a lot of bridging proposals.

The two will meet again today to begin the "second phase" of discussion on property, which Talat has identified as the hardest obstacle to a solution, claiming that nearly every single Turkish Cypriot now has some association to Greek Cypriot properties in the north.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Oct 22, 2009
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