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White House applauds Cyprus peace talks

The White House on Tuesday applauded leaders of Cyprus, who agreed Tuesday to talks designed at ending the decades-old conflict between the island's two largest ethnic groups.

"Through a settlement, both communities can realize their full potential, with enhanced stability and economic prosperity for all the people of the island," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "We encourage the sides to work expeditiously to resolve the outstanding core issues and achieve a settlement that reunifies Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation at the earliest possible time."

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Peace talks between Greeks and Turks on the island stalled in mid-2012 and have hindered Turkey's hopes of joining the European Union. 

On Tuesday, the leaders said they would seek to strike a deal establishing a two-zone federation reuniting the island, according to Reuters. An agreement would resolve conflicts over power sharing, displaced persons, and property boundaries, and would need to pass referendums in both communities.

Carney said the U.S. would "engage in diplomacy with all stakeholders" to support the negotiations.

"We continue to believe that the island’s oil and gas resources, like all of its resources, should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement," the White House spokesman said. "We underscore the importance of upholding peace and security in and around Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean."