Cyprus talks: many issues "solved", says UN

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Espen Barth Eide (second from left, table). UN Photo/Violaine Martin

Talks to reunite Cyprus have made significant progress and could produce an "historic" outcome by the time they end late on Wednesday, the UN has said.

The comments come from Espen Barth Eide, the UN Special Advisor on the divided Mediterranean island, who's been facilitating talks between Cypriot leaders.

Taking a break from the discussions, Mr Eide said that he expected the Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Turkish delegations to present comprehensive maps to each other before the day was out – a first in a dispute dating back more than 40 years.

Here's Daniel Johnson's report from Geneva:

From a packed press room at the UN in Geneva, Espen Barthe Eide told journalists that this latest round of talks may well be historic.

"We are on track, we have dealt with some of the most difficult issues we have touched upon almost all of them, we have solved many of them and we are close to resolving some other issues."

The UN Special Advisor credited Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci for their commitment to finding a solution over the last 18 months.

Previous efforts to reunite the island have foundered, but this time the process has been led by the Cypriots themselves, Espen Barthe Eide said – with "every word, sentence and comma" written by the delegations meeting in Geneva.

The issue of land is key, the UN envoy explained; he described it as a "big part of the trauma" that has affected Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots since the island split in 1974.

In another first, both sides are set to present their respective maps to each other before the three-day meeting comes to an end.

If all goes to plan, the draft maps will then be placed in a UN vault and pored over by cartographers from the two delegations, who will then produce a final map for a unified Cyprus.

The so-called guarantor powers – Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom – are also set to arrive in Geneva on Thursday to discuss their part in any future agreement.

Sounding a note of caution, UN Special Advisor Eide said that although he believed that this was "the best chance" of a deal, he did not expect to leave the talks with everything agreed, or with a referendum date for Cypriots to vote on it.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'36"

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