Israel, Cyprus promote cooperation, stress shared challenges

Israel is on a diplomatic mission to develop and strengthen its relationship with as many countries in the region as possible.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades met in Jerusalem on Sunday to promote the countries’ regional cooperation. The two discussed the fight against Islamic terrorism and cooperation on responses to emergencies in the region.

“In the course of the discussions, both leaders emphasized their shared interests in regional stability and expressed their agreement to continue countering sources of extremism and terrorism,” a joint statement issued after the meeting said.

The leaders also discussed the development of energy sources on the eastern Mediterranean, and agreed that resolving the differences between Cyprus and Turkey would quicken the advancement of future projects.

“There is no question that resolving the outstanding issues between Cyprus and Turkey would greatly facilitate the pace of the development of future projects, which will proceed according to international law, as well as greatly enhance stability in the region,” the statement read.

Israel recently signed a reconciliation pact with Ankara, which generated concerns by Cyprus, which is in a state of conflict with Turkey.

“Both leaders stressed the importance of the trilateral framework between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece” which was signed in January, and agreed to reconvene together by the end of the year.

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Prior to the meeting, Netanyahu stated that “Cyprus and Israel are two small democracies in the eastern Mediterranean” that “share common challenges, and also common opportunities.”

He again thanked Cyprus for the assistance it extended to Israel in combating a massive blaze in the north of the country in 2010. Israel reciprocated the gesture last month when Cyprus combated a ferocious forest fire, and Israel sent its planes to help extinguish the flames.

In April, the two countries, along with Greece, conducted a joint fire-fighting exercise.

“That’s exactly the kind of thing that friends do. They come to each other’s help in times of need, but also cooperate in good times or cooperate to make times better. And that’s why I’m particularly proud to have this opportunity to continue the dialogue we began on a tripartite basis in the Nicosia summit,” he added.

“We are reliable partners that see eye to eye on a wide agenda of issues, reaching from energy to security to a very sincere, open and frank political dialogue,” Anastasiades stated. “We have been tightening our areas of cooperation, from tourism to education and business, sharpening our joint training, and through continuous coordination have been forming a common language. This common language enables us to stand by each other in these very challenging times, as we are faced with so many attacks against our common rights. This is true in our immediate region, but also in many parts of the world.”

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By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News