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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prospects for Divided Cyprus Still Shaky Despite Talks

GLION, Switzerland -- Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash began a new round of UN-led talks here Monday aimed at reviving fragile peace prospects for the divided Mediterranean island.

Talks started formally with a sit-down lunch between the two arch foes and UN mediator Diego Cordovez at a hotel in Glion, a hamlet outside of Montreux.

The negotiations, set to last five days, follow a first round of UN-sponsored talks in July at Troutbeck, New York, which broke a three-year bout of silence between the two politicians, who have been sparring for nearly three decades.

The Troutbeck talks raised hopes for fresh advances, but prospects for further progress their in relations were dealt a setback following Turkey's agreement last week with its breakaway northern Cypriot community for gradual integration.

The move was made in response to the European Commission's recent formal announcement that talks on Cyprus' bid to join the European Union would take place in 1998, which infuriated Ankara.

"We have doubts over the success of the talks amid the shadow of the latest European Commission move," State Minister Sukru Gurel responsible for Cyprus matters in Ankara told NTV television.

One of the key aides to Dentkash, Ergun Olgun, criticized Brussels' decision and also evoked as an obstacle Cyprus' purchase of Russian missiles.

The Swiss session is meant to focus on the shape of a new constitution and is seen as a prelude to more detailed negotiations on the status of Cyprus.

Olgun insisted that if the opportunity in Switzerland was missed, a "critical" period would follow, stressing that momentum in the peace process must be maintained.