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Parties agree road map for Cyprus talks: Northern Cyprus

The Greek and Turkish Cypriots have agreed on a road map prepared by the UN to resume talks on a reunification of the island, the Northern Turkish presidency said.

NICOSIA: The Greek and Turkish Cypriots have agreed on a road map prepared by the UN to resume talks on a reunification of the island, the Northern Turkish presidency said on Friday.

"The Greek and Turkish sides in Cyprus have reached an agreement on a common declaration for resuming negotiations," the Northern Turkish presidency said in a statement.

It said the talks were expected to resume next week.

Efforts to relaunch the UN-brokered talks on ending the four-decade division of the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus had gathered pace this week after being deadlocked for nearly two years.

Recent days have seen Greek and Turkish Cypriots working feverishly to finalise a joint declaration that would allow them to restart the negotiations.

The last round of talks was suspended in 2012 when Cyprus took over the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) in summer 2012.

Their resumption was further delayed by the Eurozone debt crisis, which forced the Greek-Cypriot government to secure a bailout from international creditors last March, plunging the island into deep recession.

But on Wednesday the spokesman of the Greek Cypriot government, Christos Stylianides, said the two sides were close to agreeing on a joint declaration that will pave the way for a new round of talks

A day earlier the foreign minister of the breakaway Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, Ozdil Nami, said efforts had been intensifying to reach a compromise.

Cyprus has been cut in half since the Turkish invasion of 1974 in reaction to a planned coup which aimed to return the island nation to Greek control.

The divided island joined the EU in 2004, after the failure of an accord to reunify the island that was approved by the Turkish half but rejected by the Greek-Cypriots.

Earlier on Friday Greece gave its backing to the renewed talks, with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras describing them as "one of the leading priorities of Greek foreign policy".

The two sides will "sit around the table and will be responsible for driving the negotiations towards a solution," Samaras said in Athens after talks with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

He added that any proposed solution should be put to a popular referendum to guarantee "the largest national consensus" possible.

The United States also offered its support on Friday.

US Vice President Joe Biden expressed Washington's "unwavering support" for a settlement in Cyprus and said he "looked forward to a successful resumption" of the talks, in a call with Anastasiades, theCyprus press and information office said.

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