"What Britain can do if it wants to effectively help this process is to exert influence and encourage Turkey to be more accomodating on the talks," he said.

Talat said it was "not possible to make an extensive assessment on the subject" without further discussion.

He added: "This [British offer] could probably be understood as an initiative to put an end to the lack of will on this subject on the part of the Greek Cypriot side".

Ethnic divisions

Britain, which was once a colonial power on the island, offered on Tuesday to give up two pockets of militarily strategic, undeveloped real estate in the south of the island.

The land was split in a Turkish invasion, triggered by a brief Greek inspired coup, in 1974.

The offer is contingent on a long-elusive peace deal between Cyprus's estranged Greek and Turkish Cypriots engaged in reunification negotiations for more than a year.

It was made to the United Nations, which is overseeing the peace talks.

Cyprus's ethnic division is one factor affecting Turkey's bid to join the European Union, and is a source of tension between Nato allies Greece and Turkey.

Britain's latest offer to hand over territory is similar to one made in 2003, when a UN reunification blueprint was being discussed by the two sides.