UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, and encouraged both sides of the conflict -- the Turkish and Greek Cypriots -- to finally resolve their long-standing dispute.
The council resolution extends the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus, known as UNFICYP, to July 31, 2013.
The new resolution received 14 votes in favor, with abstentions from Azerbaijan, a non-permanent member of the 15-nation UN body.
The resolution "acknowledges the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, but notes that this has not been sufficient and has not yet resulted in a comprehensive and durable settlement, and urges the sides to continue their discussions to reach decisive progress on the core issues."
It emphasized that "the responsibility for finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves" and that the primary role of the UN is "assisting the parties to bring the Cyprus conflict and division of the island to a comprehensive and durable settlement."
The peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was first authorized in 1964 after fighting caused by ethnic tensions broke out between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
The adopted resolution aims to ameliorate these tensions and move more swiftly toward a resolution, "calling for renewed efforts to implement all remaining confidence-building measures, and for agreement on and implementation of further steps to build trust between the communities."
Talks between the two parties began in 2008, under UN auspices, with the goal of creating a bizonal, bi-communal federation, with political equality and a single international personality that will accommodate both communities.
The island state has been divided by a military buffer zone since 1974, when Turkish forces invaded and occupied the north after a Greek-led coup attempted to make the land part of Greece.
Many landmines were laid in the midst of this violence, and the resolution also calls for "both sides to allow access to deminers and to facilitate the removal of the remaining mines in Cyprus within the buffer zone, and urges both sides to extend demining operations outside the buffer zone."
Lisa Buttenheim of the United States is the special representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and head of the mission, and Major General Liu Chao, who is from China, is the force commander of the UN peacekeeping operation in Cyprus.