Cyprus-Britain relations recovering after rift over Turkey's bid to join EU

Relations between Cyprus and Britain, strained over Turkey's bid to join the European Union, are now recovering, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said Tuesday. Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960 but has been divided between a Turkish-Cypriot north and a Greek-Cypriot south since 1974 following a Turkish invasion triggered by a failed coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Cypriot politicians publicly criticized Britain, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, before the start of Turkey's accession talks with the EU for failing to press Ankara to recognize the island's Greek Cypriot government, the AP reports.

Turkey formally began membership negotiations with the EU earlier this month. The talks are expected to last for more than 10 years. Ankara backs the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north, and is the only country to recognize it.

Prescott, here on a two-day visit, said Britain had inherited obligations as a presidency when it took over in July.

Papadopoulos and Prescott signed a memorandum of understanding which provides for formal dialogue on various bilateral issues. A.M.

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