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Outgoing UN envoy says divided Cyprus' economic woes could help bring elusive peace deal

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — The outgoing United Nations envoy to ethnically split Cyprus says the bailed-out country's economic problems could bolster the chances of a long-elusive peace accord.

Alexander Downer told a farewell news conference Thursday that Cyprus' shrunken economy and high unemployment could get people to focus on the benefits an accord would bring, such as a potential increase in foreign investment and a tourism influx.

Numerous rounds of peace talks between internationally recognized Greek Cypriots and breakaway Turkish Cypriots have stalled since the country's division in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

A new round of negotiations began last month.

Downer, who served in the post for 5½ years, said there's "positive momentum" in the talks and that a "deal can be done."

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