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Cyprus Reunification Talks to Resume

Officials in Cyprus say talks to reunify the divided Mediterranean island nation will begin next week between rival Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

A statement Friday from the Turkish Cypriot presidency said the talks were finalized after both sides agreed on a text outlining a common declaration for the negotiations.

The president of the Greek Cypriot government, Nicos Anastasiades, said the joint communiqué is the first step forward, but said the real work lies ahead.

"I want to say that the most major difficulties are those that are ahead of us - the joint communiqué is not the solution to the Cyprus problem, it just dictates the parameters which the two communities, but also Turkey, must operate within, so that we achieve a solution that will be acceptable to the Greek Cypriots, without ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriots."

In a phone call Friday with Mr. Anastasiades, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden expressed "unwavering U.S. support" for a reunification settlement. The White House said Biden encouraged creative thinking in the upcoming talks.

Peace talks in Cyprus have been deadlocked for nearly two years.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded after a coup by Greek Cypriot supporters of a union with Greece.

In 2004, the Greek-held portion of Cyprus joined the European Union alone.

Turkish Cypriots declared independence in the 1980s, but only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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