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Boris Johnson to join talks on Cyprus reunification

Boris Johnson is preparing to join international talks aimed at reunifying Cyprus after more than four decades of division.

The Foreign Secretary is expected to fly to Geneva on Wednesday for the United Nations-led conference amid cautious hopes of a settlement following years of failed diplomatic initiatives.

Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have begun three days of discussions in Switzerland in an attempt to clear the ground for an agreement.

They are due to be joined later in the week by key international players including representatives of the island's three "guarantors" - Britain, as the formal colonial power, Greece and Turkey.

New UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are also thought likely to attend.

The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops staged an invasion in response to a coup by Greek Cypriots aimed at uniting with Greece.

UN peacekeepers continue to patrol the buffer zone between the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north - recognised only by Turkey - and the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot south.

One of the key issues to be resolved in the talks is security, with more than 30,000 Turkish troops still in the north.

Any settlement is likely to involve a federal arrangement with the two communities sharing power in a united Cyprus.

However they have struggled to agree on the territory each side will control, with talks between Mr Anastasiades and Mr Akinci almost breaking down in November.

Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan - who has been meeting politicians in Athens and Ankara and will join Mr Johnson in Geneva - has said he is "hopeful" an agreement is "in reach".

However any settlement will have to be supported in separate referendums of the two communities. A previous agreement in 2004 was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.


From Belfast Telegraph