UNITED NATIONS (AFP) ― U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon named the first ever woman to serve as the head of a U.N. peacekeeping operation Monday, appointing a Norwegian commander to the U.N. mission in Cyprus.
Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund of Norway, 56, will replace outgoing Maj. Gen. Chao Liu of China in mid-August.
Lund, who has 34 years of experience at home and with U.N. forces, served as deputy commander of the Norwegian Army Forces Command from 2007 to 2009 and chief of staff of the Norwegian Home Guard. She was also involved in U.N. missions in Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission for Cyprus, UNFICYP, was established in 1964 to prevent the recurrence of fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.
A force of 930 soldiers and 66 police patrol the cease-fire lines and buffer zone, undertaking humanitarian activities and supporting the U.N. mission in general.
The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece.
In 2004, Greek Cypriot voters rejected a U.N. blueprint to reunify the Mediterranean island at a referendum despite overwhelming acceptance by their Turkish counterparts.
Talks between the two sides under the auspices of the United Nations were largely fruitless and discontinued in 2012, only to resume again in February of this year.