Cyprus’ presence in Europe is a major asset to Lebanon, the country’s Defence Minister Yaacoub Riad Sarraf said on Thursday, underlining the “tremendous prospects” that open up with the forthcoming visit of President Nicos Anastasiades to Beirut.
Sarraf, who is on an official visit to Cyprus, was received by his Cypriot counterpart Christoforos Fokaides at the National Guard headquarters in Nicosia.
The two men had a tête-à-tête followed by talks in the presence of their delegations.
The Lebanese minister said his visit to Cyprus was to “honour a debt that Lebanon has towards Cyprus” for all its assistance in the past, as well as more recently with the refugee crisis.
“Cyprus plays a major role in the coordination between the European community and Lebanon,” Sarraf added.
The minister also referred to the upcoming visit to Lebanon by Anastasiades, noting that he lays great hopes on its outcome. The prospects for prosperity and peace, as well as in education and culture are tremendous, he noted.
“Cyprus has stood by Lebanon and will continue to do so,” said his Cypriot counterpart, Christoforos Fokaides.
He also referred to the signing of an agreement for bilateral military cooperation, saying that it reflects the will of both countries to face common challenges.
Fokaides outlined the problems faced by the region, such as extremism and the refugee crisis, adding that Cyprus remained in solidarity with Lebanon.
According to Fokaides, maximum cooperation was required, with the involvement of all governments “that remain committed in the fight against terrorism”.
Cyprus, both bilaterally, as well as on a trilateral level, together with Greece and countries from the region, aims at turning the Eastern Mediterranean into an area of peace and prosperity, he said.
The Minister conveyed Nicosia’s unwavering will to continue supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces, within its means, and to extend cooperation in maritime safety, search and rescue operations.