Biden holds calls with Greek and Turkish Cypriot presidents

Biden holds calls with Greek and Turkish Cypriot presidents

Biden holds calls with Greek and Turkish Cypriot presidents

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a street dedication ceremony in honor of their late son Joseph R. "Beau" Biden, III near Camp Bondsteel in Ferizaj, Kosovo, August 17, 2016. REUTERS photo

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden held separate phone calls on Aug. 19 with Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, congratulating them both on progress in talks on reunifying the country, the White House said.

“The vice president expressed hope that the leaders would be able to make significant additional progress in the talks before their travel to the United Nations General Assembly, and that an agreement could be reached by the end of 2016,” the White House said in a statement.

Akıncı’s office confirmed the talk with in a written statement, while the Cyprus Government Spokesperson Nikos Christodoulides tweeted about the conversation between Biden and Anastasiades. 

Akıncı and Anastasiades re-launched peace talks in May 2105, under the guidance of the United Nations. Since then the two leaders have engaged in multiple meetings in order to find a peaceful solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict. 

The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkey partially intervened into the north after a coup aimed at unification with Greece.

Speaking after a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Aug. 17, Akıncı said the seven meetings starting this week and lasting until mid-September between him and Anastasiades were crucial. 

“If it is possible to form the basis of a quintet conference in these seven meetings – which we wish to happen – then the month of September may mark the beginning of a new era,” Akıncı said on Aug. 19, in Nicosia having flied back to the island from Ankara. 

The U.N. General Assembly is set to convene in the second half of September and seven critical meetings will be held from Aug. 23 to Sept. 14 as part of the U.N.-led reunification talks for the island.

“Of course it is too early to say for certain. We need to wait for the process of these seven meetings,” Akıncı added.