24 March 2008United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders on their agreement to start full-fledged negotiations within three months on resolving the long-running dispute on the Mediterranean island. “The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to the Cypriot people in their efforts to reach a settlement,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Michele Montas, said today in New York.A meeting between the Greek Cypriot leader, Demetris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, was hosted by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Michael Møller, last Friday. Mr. Ban “warmly” welcomed the leaders’ decisions to set up a number of working groups and technical committees in advance of talks, and said that their agreement on the opening of a crossing at Ledra Street in Nicosia as soon as technically possible “was a positive step forward,” Ms. Montas said.Later this month, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe will go to Cyprus to help the UN determine how it can be as helpful as possible to the success of the process, she added. The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established in March 1964 following the outbreak of inter-community violence on the Mediterranean island. The mission is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to a return to normal conditions and the maintenance of law and order.