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Greek, Turkish Cypriot Leaders Issue First Joint Christmas Message

People sit at a coffee bar as TV screens show Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, left, and the leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akinci, delivering holiday wishes together in Nicosia, Dec. 24, 2015.

The leaders of Greek and Turkish Cyprus stood side by side on television Thursday to send their first-ever joint Christmas greeting to the ethnically divided nation.

"I wish the new year will allow us, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, to live once again more peacefully in a reunited country," Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadas said.

He stood next to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who said, "I wish the new year will bring lasting peace, serenity and prosperity to all Cypriots."

Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north since Turkey invaded in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the entire island.

Only Turkey recognizes an independent Turkish Cypriot administration.

U.N.-sponsored reunification talks have been conducted off and on for several years, with both sides expressing confidence about a successful outcome. The latest negotiations began last May.