Britain offers land for Cyprus reunification

The UK would give up tracts of its military bases in Cyprus if reunification talks are successful, Gordon Brown said yesterday.

After meeting President Dimitris Christofias, the Prime Minister urged the leaders of the divided Greek and Turkish populations to be "courageous" in efforts to secure a United Nations- brokered deal.

He said: "An offer has been made to the United Nations to make available just under 50 per cent of the territory of the UK's Sovereign Base Areas to a unified Cyprus in the event of a solution. It will be up to the two leaders to negotiate what happens with this land.

"Today, my message to Cyprus's leaders and to their people is: you can make history; be bold, be courageous; the UK will support you."

The two base areas – Akrotiri and Dhekelia – were retained under UK jurisdiction when Cyprus was granted independence in 1960 but are military not "colonial" territories.

They cover 98 square miles – which is 3 per cent of the Mediterranean island's total land area – but around 60 per cent of that is privately-owned and around 7,000 Cypriots live within them.

The Foreign Office said the base areas, which are entirely military, would be able to function as normal within the reduced land area.

RAF Akrotiri, an air base on the southern coast, has acted as a key staging post for British forces en route to the Gulf and elsewhere in the region.

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