Speaking at Swiss peace talks, UN Secretary-General Guterres says 'a lot of work' remains
The head of the UN has appeared to play down the chances of a latest round of Cyprus peace talks achieving reunification of the divided island.
Speaking to reporters on Friday at the Cyprus conference in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: "The solution is very, very difficult to find."
He added, however, there was “no deadline” to finding a solution.
His comments follow Thursday’s description by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu of the current negotiations as a “final” series of talks.
"We cannot continue negotiations forever,” Cavusoglu had told reporters in Crans-Montana.
However, Guterres said a deadline “would help create a condition for the problem not to be solved".
"There is still a lot of work to be done," he added.
The Cyprus peace talks in Switzerland had previously been called the "best, but not the last chance" to solve the long-standing dispute by the UN chief's special adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide.
Guterres on Friday participated in the Cyprus conference, meeting Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders plus the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece and the U.K.
In a statement on Friday, Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu supported Cavusoglu in his rejection on Thursday of suggestions there could be “zero” Turkish troops stationed on the island in future.
Ertugruloglu also condemned what he called the “uncompromising attitude” of the Greek Cypriot side during the Crans-Montana talks.
The UN is seeking a peace deal to unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella, which could also define the future of Europe’s relations with Turkey, a key player in the conflict.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.