The parents of Madeleine McCann have been given renewed hope by the disclosure that Portuguese police have identified new lines of inquiry into the toddler's disappearance six years ago.
A review of the high-profile case by police in Portugal has led to the identification of new clues which Scotland Yard stressed were "separate" from work already completed by British detectives.
In a move that had been widely anticipated, the Portuguese authorities announced the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance had been re-opened.
But the disclosure that they had established new lines of inquiry – in addition to a wide range of evidence and possible suspects already publicised by Scotland Yard – was entirely unexpected.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police's head of specialist crime, described it as a "significant point" in the hunt for Madeleine, and revealed Kate and Gerry McCann were briefed on new developments in Lisbon last week.
Mr Rowley said: "This new momentum is encouraging but we still have a way to go and, as with all major investigations, not all lines of inquiry that look promising will yield results."
The Portuguese judicial authorities have authorised the re-opening of the investigation five years since police in the country gave up looking for Madeleine, who was three years old when she disappeared from the Praia da Luz resort on the Algarve on May 3, 2007.
Mr Rowley said the Portuguese investigation will run in parallel with the Scotland Yard's inquiry which is code-named Operation Grange.
Earlier this month, British police released a series of e-fits of people they want to speak to, including two of a man seen carrying a child around Madeleine's age towards the beach just before 10pm on the night of her disappearance.
It was disclosed on the BBC 'Crimewatch' programme that after eliminating one suspect, Operation Grange detectives had a "revelation moment" that Madeleine could have been taken up to 45 minutes later than previously thought.
Mr Rowley and Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is leading Operation Grange, met with senior Portuguese officers in Lisbon last Thursday.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the officers were briefed on "new lines of inquiry which, at this point, are separate to the lines of inquiry being followed by the Metropolitan Police".
The officers were then joined by Mr and Mrs McCann who were also briefed on the plans to re-open the Portuguese investigation.
Mr Rowley said: "The meeting was very positive, and we and the Policia Judiciara have a shared determination to do everything possible to discover what happened to Madeleine.
"Colleagues in Portugal fully shared with us the developments in their review, and the fact that they were taking the significant step of applying for the investigation to be formally re-opened."
He added: "Last week was a significant point in the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, and I would like to thank the public across Europe for the overwhelming response to the appeals that we made here at home on 'Crimewatch', as well as in Germany and Holland.
Mr and Mrs McCann said: "We hope that this will finally lead to her being found and to the discovery of whoever is responsible for this crime.
"We once again urge any member of the public who may have information relating to Madeleine's abduction to contact the police in Portugal or the UK." (© Daily Telegraph, London)