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NICOSIA, Cyprus – New proposals aimed at overcoming a stalemate hampering talks to reunify Cyprus are insufficient, the ethnically divided island's Turkish Cypriot leader declared Wednesday. Hopes for a breakthrough now appear to rest with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who will join the talks Thursday for the second time in eight days.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said the proposals presented by the island's Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades offered nothing substantial and served only to score "points with the public."
"Regarding the proposals, I'm sorry to say, but it seems that they are designed (as a) charm offensive," Akinci told reporters.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu echoed Akinci, saying Anastasiades offered his latest proposals as different, "but at the end when you read it, nothing is new."
Without disclosing details, Anastasiades defended the proposals that he said were evenhanded because they addressed the concerns of both the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.
"Our aim is a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem that is fair for all, although others want it according to the sense of what's just," the president said.
Akinci said it would now be up to Guterres to shepherd the talks out of the woods and toward an accord ending the east Mediterranean island's 43-year split.
"Tomorrow must be a decisive day for Cyprus," he said.
Guterres' personal touch during an appearance last week helped identify key sticking points and offered a road map for working through them.
It's hoped he can get the parties to agree on a framework agreement. The details would be worked out in the coming weeks before a finalized accord ending the east Mediterranean island's 43-year division is put to the island's Greek and Turkish communities for a vote.
Cyprus' 'guarantors' — Greece, Turkey and former colonial ruler Britain are participating in the talks. Their views are considered crucial to post-reunification security arrangements in an envisioned federal Cyprus. The European Union is participating as an observer.
Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. chief felt that it was a "good time for him to return to the talks."
A linchpin to a deal remains the future of the more than 35,000 troops that Turkey has kept in the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when it invaded following a coup mounted by supporters of uniting Cyprus with Greece.
Greek Cypriots perceive the Turkish soldiers as a threat and want them all gone. The island's minority Turkish Cypriots want them to stay as their protectors. Turkey's foreign minister said this week that a full troop withdrawal was out of the question. Greece also wants military intervention rights that Cyprus' 1960 constitution granted to the guarantors abolished. Turkey wants to retain some of those rights.
Among other key Turkish Cypriot demands is to take turns holding the federal presidency.
___ Associated Press writer Edith Lederer in New York contributed to this report.