Security Council members expressed on Tuesday support to the efforts of Jane Holl Lute, the UN Secretary-General’s envoy who arrived in Cyprus for separate meetings with the leaders, President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

The SC members were briefed yesterday in New York by Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, on the latest report by the UN Secretary-General and Lute’s arrival to Cyprus.

According to diplomatic sources, informal deliberations at the Security Council were held in a positive climate. SC members welcomed the opening of more crossing points and emphasized the need for a positive climate and for more Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).

According to a diplomat from a SC member, the United States raised the issue of hydrocarbons and informed other members about the forthcoming activities of Exxon Mobil in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone. They noted in particular that the company conducts research and not exploitation activities, something that should not raise concern or trigger tensions.

The US also reiterated their position that benefits from the exploitation of hydrocarbons should be shared equitably among the communities in the framework of a Cyprus settlement. The same source said that DiCarlo also pointed the issue of hydrocarbons in a positive light during her closing remarks.

The Cypriot delegation insisted on a reference by the President of the Security Council regarding the form of a Cyprus settlement, in the deliberations that took place the days before the SC meeting.

It should be noted that Sacha Sergio Llorenti Soliz, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations and President of the Security Council said in his remarks after the meeting that SC members “reiterated the importance of a comprehensive and durable settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation in line with Security Council resolutions, and their conviction that many benefits would flow from it.”

The Cypriot request was accepted by the US and Britain, who acknowledged that the form of the Cyprus settlement is defined by the relevant UN resolutions, despite the absence of a mention in the SG report.

Another issue discussed by the members the days before Tuesday’s meeting was the reference made by the Secretary-General in his report, that “the way ahead must be well prepared, with a sense of urgency.” Turkey insisted on a wording that could be seen also as a timeframe.

The initial statement by Soliz also included a reference that SC members agreed that “the unchanging status quo is not acceptable and that the way ahead must be prepared with a sense of urgency.” Russia disagreed with the wording for reasons that have to do with the approach of Western countries over Syria and instead of “sense of urgency” the reference used was “without unreasonable delays.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

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