Turkish Cypriot leader meets with U.N. peacekeeping chief

Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar met with the head of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus to discuss the future of the contested island, Turkish state-run Anadolu agency said on Thursday.

Tatar, who received the backing of Ankara in his successful bid for election last month, has indicated that he favours a two-state solution rather than a return to reunification talks.

Cyprus has been divided into separate administrations since 1974, when a Turkish military intervention sought to counter a Greek-backed coup.

Repeated efforts to reunify the island, including an initiative led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, have stalled over differences between Turkey and Greece.

New negotiations should instead be based on equal sovereignty and co-existence between the two administrations, Anadolu cited Tatar as saying.

According to Anadolu, Tatar said Turkish Cypriots had been excluded by the international community and only had the support of Turkey.

Turkey has taken a more assertive stance on the Cyprus issue in recent months as it competes with Greece for claims to natural gas discoveries off the coast of the island.

On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would visit Cyprus on Nov. 15 and have a picnic in the closed city of Varosha.

Once a popular tourist destination, Varosha was abandoned following the 1974 conflict. Tatar pledged to reopen the resort as part of efforts to woo nationalist voters during his election campaign.

Many of Varosha’s properties are still claimed by Greek Cypriots who fled the town, and recently protested Erdoğan’s planned visit.