NICOSIA, Cyprus – The United Nations chief on Monday urged the rival leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus to seize the opportunity for a reunification deal that he said is within their grasp.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the two leaders are at a “critical juncture” in talks now taking place in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, and encouraged them to make the most of the moment.

Ban on Monday offered his full support to Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and called on Greece, Britain and Turkey which the Cypriot constitution designates as the island’s guarantors to give their backing.

“Cyprus offers tremendous hope to people around the world that long-standing conflicts can be resolved peacefully through negotiations,” Ban said at the start of the five-day, U.N. backed talks at the Swiss resort.

“The prospect of a solution in Cyprus is within reach,” added Ban. “Expectations in both communities are high.”

The reasoning behind moving negotiations abroad is to allow the leaders to focus on the issues without outside distractions.

A Turkish invasion in 1974 in the wake of a coup aiming at union with Greece split the tiny, east Mediterranean island of roughly a million people into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized south.

Turkey keeps more than 35,000 troops in the north and is the only country to recognize a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence.

Anastasiades and Akinci will concentrate this week on how much territory each side will administer under an envisioned federation. That’s a key element of any deal that will determine how many Greek Cypriots can reclaim property lost during the war as well as an accord’s financial cost.

Both men have said success at Mont Pelerin could pave the way for a final summit tackling the pivotal issue of post-settlement security arrangements.