President Tassos Papadopoulos will send an envoy to the United Nations headquarters in New York for discussions on how talks can resume, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.

 

It was not immediately clear when that would take place.

 

It would represent an easing in the impasse in negotiations over Cyprus, a crucial issue that must be resolved to improve Turkey's chances of joining the European Union.

 

Reunification attempts collapsed last year when Greek Cypriots, who are internationally recognised as governing the whole island, rejected a UN power-sharing blueprint, then joined the European Union in Cyprus' name.

 

Turkey and the minority Turkish Cypriots backed the UN plan.

 

"Mr Papadopoulos confirmed he would be sending an envoy to the UN soon for exploratory talks. In light of the visit the secretary-general will decide on what further steps to take," the UN spokesman said.

 

Talks to resume

 

Papadopoulos met Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Moscow on Monday, on the sidelines of Victory Day celebrations. 

 

Erdogan (R) is positive about the
proposed new round of talks

Erdogan said Annan was ready to assist in a fresh diplomatic push, and that Papadopoulos was not opposed to the idea.

 

"Compared to their previous statements, I saw they approached positively the issue of carrying out such a process," Erdogan said on Monday.

 

The east Mediterranean island was partitioned in a Turkish invasion in 1974, triggered by a brief coup by Greece's then military government.

 

Turkish Cypriots, recognised only by Turkey, make up a little over a quarter of Cyprus's population of more than 800,000 and occupy about a third of its area.

 

Resumption of talks has so far hinged on UN demands that Papadopoulos spell out the changes and objections his side had to the UN peace plan.