United Nations-sponsored talks that ended here last week move efforts to solve the problem between Greek and Turkish inhabitants of Cyprus into a new phase. The two sides agreed to begin ongoing negotiations Sept. 15. The site will be the old Ledra Palace Hotel, now used as a UN headquarters, on the ``green line'' separating the Greek and Turkish sections of Nicosia, Cyprus. They also set a timetable for this process, including meetings at least once a week and a deadline of June 1, 1989, to work out a form of government for the forcibly divided Mediterranean island.
Last week's talks between Cypriot President George Vassiliou and Rauf Denktash, president of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, were presided over by UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar.
The two men, who met for the first time, seem to have liked each other. ``Denktash is a very intelligent and capable interlocutor. I have the feeling we can communicate'' Mr. Vassiliou said after three hours of discussions.
``Vassiliou is a business-like person, with whom one can discuss,'' Mr. Denktash said. ``Finally we have an interlocutor for a dialogue.''
Division of Cyprus occurred in 1974 when Turkey invaded the island following a Greek-backed coup. But inter-communal differences between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority are even older.
For the Greek Cypriot side, the priority is the withdrawal of the 29,000 troops that Turkey maintains in the north, together with an estimated 50,000 Turkish nationals who came to settle in that region after the 1974 invasion. Turkish Cypriots and Turkey view this as a question of security: Turkish forces could be withdrawn only after a settlement is in sight.
The Turkish side insists that any settlement should be based on the principle of ``political equality'' - recognition of the existence of two different ``national entities'' and the need for them to live in and administer their own ``zones.''
Currently, Northern Cyprus - one-third of the island - operates as an independent ``state.''
The Greek Cypriots have insisted on the ``reunification'' of the small island. They maintained that the federal character of the state should not split the country in two. As to security, the Greek side suggests international guarantees.