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Nicosia (AFP) - There is strong international and domestic momentum behind UN-brokered peace talks aimed at reuniting Cyprus after 41 years, an "encouraged" UN envoy said Tuesday.
"We are on a good track right now. and the international support is remarkably strong," Norwegian diplomat Espen Barth Eide told reporters after meeting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
"I don't really know about any peace process anywhere where the international alignment is so strong as in this case," he added.
The UN Security Council is "fully aligned," and the European Union is "on board," as are Greece and Turkey, who are guarantor powers for the island's security.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci will meet for third time in the UN-controlled buffer zone on Wednesday.
Many believe the good chemistry between the two, who went to the theatre together with their wives last week, can create a climate of trust.
"I am encouraged by the fact that the leaders themselves say very strongly that there is no time to lose and they want to move full speed ahead using the current momentum," Eide said.
Long-stalled talks, seen as the best chance in years to reunify Cyprus after four decades, were launched on May 15.
With the situation positive both internationally and locally, Eide added: "I think we are in extremely good shape… It would be a tragedy if we do not use this time well."
Akinci, a longtime champion of reunification, was elected president of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on April 26, defeating nationalist incumbent Dervis Eroglu.
The conservative Anastasiades also has peace credentials, having supported a 2004 UN settlement blueprint that 75 percent of Greek Cypriots rejected in a referendum.
Since then there has been little progress, with the thorny issues of territorial adjustments, security, property rights and power sharing the main stumbling blocks.
Any UN-brokered accord will again have to be put to the Cypriot people for a vote.