By Stefanos Evripidou
BRITISH FOREIGN Secretary William Hague yesterday met with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides in London to discuss bilateral relations, the Cyprus problem, British bases on the island and EU affairs.
According to a statement issued by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, during their first formal meeting- a working lunch hosted by Hague- the two ministers were given the opportunity “to further strengthen the warm and historic ties between the UK and Cyprus”.
After the meeting, Hague said: “The strong bilateral relationship between the UK and Cyprus brings benefits to us both, and we are keen to improve it even further.”
The British foreign minister said he assured Kasoulides of the UK’s “practical support as Cyprus tackles its economic difficulties, including cooperation in taking forward reforms”.
The two also talked about the ongoing division of Cyprus, said Hague, noting that “Cypriots can count on the UK to support renewed efforts for a comprehensive settlement”.
He added: “I also want us to continue cooperation on our Sovereign Base Areas.”
The two also discussed how to make the EU more competitive and effective.
Speaking to the press, Kasoulides said Britain understands the reasons for which peace talks will begin in October and not earlier, noting that Hague expressed Britain’s willingness to help in areas where it can.
“We elaborated on the importance which we attribute to measures such as the return of Famagusta which will serve as a catalyst that will allow us to address the remaining aspects of the Cyprus problem with confidence and trust vis-a-vis Turkey’s intentions,” said Kasoulides.
“We will see how this issue evolves. I think that as long as there is an understanding of the positions of both sides there will be no complications,” he added.
The Cypriot foreign minister said he highlighted to his British counterpart the importance of hydrocarbons in the region “as a bridge of friendship and mutual understanding between all the states in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus and Turkey”.