President Barack Obama has expressed the view that the prospects for a settlement of the Cyprus problem are the best that have been for some time, and has urged the parties to continue their work.

Addressing a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after their meeting, in Athens, Obama said that they “discussed Cyprus where the prospects for a just, comprehensive, lasting settlement are the best that have been for some time.”

It doesn’t mean, he added, “that success is guaranteed, but the possibility of resolving a decades long conflict is there.”

“We urged the parties to continue their work,” the US President noted, adding that “the interests of all Cypriots will be advanced with a bizonal bicommunal federation.”

Obama continued saying that “we are hopeful that a solution that is durable, which would create new economic optimism for all the people across Cyprus, is within reach.”

He added that “it will be a powerful example to the world of what is possible with diplomacy and compromise.”

Replying to a question as to how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could be persuaded to implement a solution he pointed out that “this is ultimately a negotiation between Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.”

The good news, Obama added, “is that you have two leaders who seem genuinely committed to find compromises and approaches that will serve both their peoples life.”

“If in fact you can see a meeting in the minds between them, the issue will be can we make sure all of us, the international community, Greece, Turkey, USA, support that agreement in a way that can be ratified by both sides,” he said.

At the same time he pointed out that the US has invested a lot of time and spoke about US Vice President`s Joe Biden`s active involvement. We are encouraged by the progress that has been made, he noted, adding that “I think there is a window in the next weeks, months where this is issue will be actually resolved.”

The US President further noted that a solution would not provide 100% what either side wants, adding that mechanisms could maybe be found for transitional periods.

“We are going to do everything we can to support the process,” he concluded.

Αddressing the press after his meeting with Obama, Greek Prime Minister Tsipras said that on the Cyprus problem they agreed on the need for a just and viable solution on the basis of UN’s resolutions and Cyprus` EU membership. In this context they support, he said, the ongoing crucial and important negotiations that bring hope, but also require extreme caution in this critical phase, because key issues are still pending.

Tsipras stressed that the aim is to find a solution that will benefit all the people of Cyprus, a solution that will help in confidence – building on the island. He added that this cannot be achieved without the withdrawal of the occupying troops and without abolishing the system of guarantees.

He also said that the Cyprus issue is not a bilateral problem, not a problem between Greece and Turkey, but is an international problem, a problem of illegal invasion and occupation. As he said, Greece supports and encourages both sides to reach a fair and lasting agreement.

The Greek government, he added, supports President Nicos Anastasiades` efforts and is ready to discuss with Turkey the only issue that concerns Greece and that is the system of guarantees.

Tsipras said that there can be no just and viable solution with a permanent presence of Turkish troops on the island. He said that the best guarantee for the safety of the Cyprus people is the perspective of a just and viable solution, and if such a solution is achieved then the situation will be completely different, not only for Cyprus but also for the whole region.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. President Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.

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