GENEVA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Much progress has been made since the latest round of Cyprus talks started on Monday, UN Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Wednesday.

"We are on track. We have dealt with some of the most difficult issues and touched upon almost all of them," Eide told reporters on the third and final day of UN-facilitated Cyprus talks.

Both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders had made important headway on some of the thorniest issues at stake, he said.

Eide also added that many of the sticking points had either been solved or are closed to being so by rival delegations.

Both Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in negotiations since Monday, almost two months after the two sides failed to see eye to eye in a round of negotiations in the Swiss town of Mont-Pelerin last November.

A broader international conference is scheduled to kick off on Thursday.

It will involve newly-appointed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the foreign ministers from the three guarantor powers -- Britain, Turkey and Greece.

"We are eager to see that tomorrow gets off to a good start, and it was very important that we were able to use these three days optimally," Eide continued.

"I think we are roughly where we wanted to be at this stage thanks to the determination and leadership of M. Anastasiades and Mr. Akinci," he added.

Describing this opportunity as "historic", the Norwegian diplomat said that both sides will exchange maps outlining the administrative delimitations of both sides.

The internal issues of property and territory are considered crucial if any lasting deal is to be reached.

If this is the case, and pending referendums, the ambition is to create a unified and federal state, with specific guidelines defining the small Mediterranean nation's governance, security and economy, as well as its relationship with the EU.

"It's a very important moment. Never before have we had an exchange of maps created by the Cypriot delegations themselves," Eide highlighted.

"The maps that will be presented between the sides today are maps that they have developed based on their conversations in Mont-Pelerin, and after, so this is very important," he added.

Cyprus has been divided in two since 1974 after a Greek coup spurred Turkey to send forces to the northern parts of the small island state.

While the southern Greek Cypriot side is recognized by the international community and is a member of the European Union, only Ankara officially recognizes the break-away northern region.

by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

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