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Rival Cypriot leaders agree to open more checkpoints

Rival Cypriot leaders agree to open more checkpoints
Elizabeth Spehar, U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission (UNFICYP) welcomes Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in the buffer zone of Nicosia airport, Cyprus October 26, 2018. Iakovos Hatzistavrou   -   Copyright  POOL(Reuters)
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ATHENS (Reuters) – The rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus agreed on Friday to open more checkpoints along the militarised frontier that separates them, marking a rare sign of cooperation in the deadlocked conflict.

Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci agreed to open one new checkpoint in the west of the island and another in the east, they said in a joint statement issued through the United Nations mission in Cyprus.

The announcement followed a meeting between Anastasiades and Akinci at the U.N. mission early on Friday.

The new crossing points are due to be opened on Nov. 12, allowing further interaction between populations estranged for decades until the first checkpoints opened in 2003.

There are presently seven checkpoints dotted along the 180-km (112-mile) ceasefire line splitting Cyprus east to west, which is patrolled by United Nations peacekeepers.

The island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.

U.N.-led peace talks between the two sides collapsed in acrimony in Switzerland in July 2017, mainly due to disagreement over the future role Turkey could play in a post-settlement Cyprus.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Helen Popper)

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