China pledges support for Cyprus peace drive

Nicosia (AFP) - China's foreign minister Wang Yi said Monday his country will play a "constructive" role in the search for a UN-backed peace deal to reunify divided Cyprus.

"As a (permanent) member of the UN Security Council, China will continue to play a constructive role," Wang told reporters after meeting in Nicosia with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.

Wang also called for closer cooperation between the two countries in the shipping, energy and tourism sectors.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades said on Sunday they were working towards an elusive Cyprus deal in 2016.

With UN-mediated negotiations between the two leaders having intensified in November, the foreign ministers of Britain, Russia and the United States have since also held talks on the island.

Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops occupied its northern third in 1974 in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

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