UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has expressed hope that a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will be found, ahead of talks on Wednesday between representatives of Greece and FYROM mediated by UN envoy Matthew Nimetz.

The UN chief made the statement on Tuesday, after briefing the UN Security Council on the results of his recent tour of Europe and Africa. Responding to questions about the meeting with Nimetz, he said that the envoy was continuing talks to find a solution.

He urged the leaders of both countries to resolve the issue of the name as soon as possible so that FYROM, in particular, might be able to progress toward accession of NATO and the European Union.

"There are many important issues that must be dealt with as soon as possible for peace and security in the region," he added.

The UN Secretary General also expressed an intention to meet again with the leaders of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities on Cyprus but did not specify when and where, indicating that this would depend on the results of the meetings being held in Cyprus by the UN special envoy for Cyprus Alexander Downer.

The precise time, the daily agenda and the location are to be decided since Alexander Downer is continuing to evaluate the situation on the ground, he said.

Ban Ki Moon called on the two leaders on Cyprus to intensify negotiations so that they might bridge their differences. Concerning the meeting held in Geneva, he said that Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot community leader Dervis Eroglu had outlined some of their differences, while adding that "more work needs to be done".

Asked whether he was satisfied with the point reached in the negotiations so far, the UNSG stressed that he will be satisfied "when the two leaders agree on all the fundamental issues".

He indicated his satisfaction, however, with a commitment by Christofias and Eroglu to deal with all the issues through negotiations.