The US chief diplomat for European and Eurasian affairs Wess Mitchell will be in Cyprus on Friday as part of a tour that includes visits to Pristina, Skopje, Belgrade and Athens taking place this week.
According to a statement issued by the US State Department, the assistant secretary of state will meet senior officials in Cyprus “to discuss bilateral and regional issues, including the development of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
During his visit, Mitchell will meet with President Nicos Anastasiades, Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, according to Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides.
The diplomat is also set to meet United Nations representatives.
According to Christodoulides, the visit was planned a long time ago and is unrelated to Cyprus’ hydrocarbons explorations.
Surveys scheduled to take place by ExxonMobil will go ahead as planned in Block 10, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said, adding that a need to resolve the standoff with Turkey over natural gas did not offset the primary goal of solving the Cyprus problem.
ExxonMobil will reportedly be drilling two back-to-back exploratory wells in late summer or early autumn. Its research vessel Ocean Investigator is on course to Limassol where it is expected to arrive by Wednesday according to marinetraffic.com.
The second vessel Med Surveyor was still located off the port of Haifa, Israel.
The first stop of the diplomat’s tour is Pristina where he is scheduled to meet senior officials, including President Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Ramos Haradinaj on Monday. The following day he will be in Skopje for meetings with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov.
Mitchell will be in Athens on Thursday for meetings with senior Greek officials. They will discuss “the deepening of the Greek-American strategic ties and the strengthening of bilateral cooperation, including defence, energy, trade and investment.”
Prior to Athens, he will visit Belgrade on Wednesday for talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Anna Brnabic.