United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a news conference with Portugal's Foreign Affairs minister Augusto Santos (not pictured) at the Necessidades Palace in Lisbon, Portugal July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante Reuters
By Tom Miles and Michele Kambas
CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland/ATHENS (Reuters) - The head of the United Nations flew into Switzerland on Thursday to press Greek and Turkish Cypriots to seal a deal reuniting their east Mediterranean island, and the U.S. Vice President urged them to "seize this historic opportunity".
Diplomatic efforts to reunite Cyprus have failed since the island was riven in a 1974 Turkish army invasion triggered by a coup by Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece.
But factors such as discovery of gas in the area could increase pressure - domestic and international - for a deal.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres flew into the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, where Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been meeting.
He was due to leave for the G20 summit on Friday morning, opening only a narrow window for what might be a "final push".
"The day is almost over. Let’s see what the night will bring," Akinci told reporters as the leaders moved to a working dinner, which is expected to be followed by more talks.
"Negotiations are continuing, and I want to say one thing; cool-headedness and patience is required," Anastasiades said.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said the Greek side had done all it could to find a solution, rescuing the talks from collapsing three times.
"It’s a very difficult exercise," he said.
Earlier in the day, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence rang the rival Cypriot leaders to underscore U.S. support, the White House said in a statement.
"The Vice President urged President Anastasiades and Mr. Akinci to seize this historic opportunity to reunify the island and expressed his confidence in both leaders' ability to secure a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation," the statement said.
Recent major gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have refocused attempts to end the conflict, partly because the basin could hold sufficient to wean Europe off reliance on Russian gas, but also because of overlapping territorial claims.