"After many meetings that have taken place to date, and our discussions on all aspects of the Cyprus problem, we are encouraged by the important progress we have made so far on the chapters of governance, power-sharing, EU [European Union] matters and the economy, and we are convinced that with perseverance we shall achieve a comprehensive settlement," Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Dimitris Christofias said in a joint statement.
"We underscore the fact that negotiations are being conducted under the overriding principle of the 'integrated whole approach,' which means that 'nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed'," the two leaders said in a statement.
The document was presented on their behalf by Alexander Downer, the UN secretary-general's special advisor to Cyprus.
The two leaders said they were convinced that their "mutual concern for the common good of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots" and their desire for a "comprehensive solution" will soon lead to an exhaustive discussion of the remaining aspects of the problem.
Both expressed hope that the gaps between their positions could be closed to achieve a mutually acceptable solution, that would then be put to simultaneous referenda.
While the negotiations remain confidential, it is recognised that both leaders must explain to their communities what progress has been made so far and the differences that still need to be resolved, the joint statement added.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso welcomed the news from Nicosia, saying that progress in the talks was demonstrating "the level of commitment and responsibility that the two leaders are putting into the settlement talks".
"The statement shows also the important progress achieved since the full-fledged negotiations started on 3 September 2008. These achievements clearly demonstrate that a settlement is in reach and that there is a chance to finalise the talks in the next few months," Barroso said.
However, elections held in the Northern part of the island on 18 April may complicate the course of the negotiations, the Turkish press writes. Hardliner Dervis Eroglu is widely expected to win the poll.
The Cypriot press quoted Christofias as having said on Monday that he had heard a lot of talk lately about the Cyprus problem becoming an issue in Talat's re-election.
Referring to those who are doing the talking, Christofias said: "I don't know what they want. Maybe they want [Dervis] Eroglu at the end of the day […] And if Mr Eroglu comes what will be the result? Continued stagnation? Continued impasse? We need to think whether we really want to serve this country right. Therefore I will continue to try and hope that Mr Talat wins and strive for a solution," said Christofias.