By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Stressing that "a rare opportunity" exists to reunify war-divided Cyprus, the UN Security Council on Monday extended the mandate for the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus for six months over Turkish objections.
A resolution adopted by a vote of 14-1 urged Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to find a solution to the division of the Mediterranean island.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Since September 2008, Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, a Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have meet more than 50 times under UN auspices to discuss a deal to reunify the island.
The dispute is undermining NATO and European Union cooperation on security and hindering Turkey's bid for EU membership.
The Security Council stressed that "there now exists a rare opportunity to make decisive progress in a timely fashion" and reaffirmed the UN's primary role in assisting the parties "to bring the Cyprus conflict and division of the island to a comprehensive and durable settlement."
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