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U.S. Mediator Opens Talks on Cyprus

October 13, 1997

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ U.S. mediator Richard Holbrooke opened talks Monday aimed at reuniting divided Cyprus, amid renewed tensions between the island’s two powerbrokers, Turkey and Greece.

Holbrooke, making his first visit to Turkey since being appointed President Clinton’s envoy for Cyprus, said he did not come with proposals but to listen to Turkish views.

``Nobody should be under the impression that any kind of breakthrough is imminent,″ Holbrooke said after meeting with Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

Cyprus has been partitioned into Greek and Turkish sectors since Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in 1974 following an Athens-backed coup.

Turkish Cypriots declared independence in 1983, but are recognized only by Turkey. U.N. efforts to bring about a reconciliation have failed.

The United States has been trying to persuade Greece and Turkey to agree to a moratorium on military flights over Cyprus.

On Sunday, Greek and Turkish warplanes confronted each other in airspace above the island. Neither side opened fire. The Greek and Greek Cypriot military are holding joint exercises in Cyprus, which Turkey has said threatens peace efforts.

The private NTV television station said more Turkish fighter jets flew in international airspace over Cyprus on Monday. The Greek Cypriots accused Turkey of violating their airspace.

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