UN chief joins Cyprus peace talks in Geneva

New UN chief Antonio Guterres will attend talks in Geneva Thursday aimed at ending decades of stalemate in a divided Cyprus, in his first foreign trip since becoming secretary-general on January 1.

Foreign ministers from Cyprus’s so-called guarantor powers — Britain, Greece and Turkey — will also travel to Switzerland for a conference on security, which follows three days of peace talks with the goal of creating a two-zone federation.

Turkish Cypriot leaders have agreed in principle to return some of the land they have controlled since the 1974 invasion by Turkish troops, which came in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

UN envoy Espen Barth Eide said Wednesday the sides are very close to agreeing on what overall percentage of the island each will control.

One of the chief difficulties lies in how the boundaries are redrawn, including around the town of Morphou on the northern coast.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has warned that there can be no deal without a full return of Morphou, while some in the Turkish Cypriot camp have declared its return a non-starter.

The security conference comes after rival Cypriot delegations on Wednesday met to present maps detailing their visions for how internal boundaries should be drawn.

Eide told reporters in Geneva that the exchange would take place behind closed doors with cartographers from both sides present.

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