President Nicos Anastasiades’ visit to Saudi Arabia fulfills one of the key objectives of the island’s foreign policy and that is to strengthen its relations with the Gulf countries, the government said on Wednesday.
Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, speaking to reporters in Riyadh after Anastasiades met Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, said: “This is an historic visit, the first official visit of a Cypriot president since the establishment of the Republic in 1960.”
Christodoulides said that following the opening of the Cypriot diplomatic mission in Riyadh, and the accreditation of the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Cyprus, “now our relations have reached a new level and addresses one of the main pillars of our foreign policy, to strengthen our relations with the Gulf countries.”
Anastasiades was given a formal reception by the king at a special ceremony followed by an official lunch.
Afterwards wider talks between the delegations of the two countries were held and bilateral agreements signed.
These included an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of tax evasion, which was signed by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and the Saudi minister of finance.
A civil aviation executive programme was also signed by Transport Minister Marios Demetriades and his Saudi counterpart.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed on political consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries. The memorandum was signed by Kasoulides and, on behalf of Saudi Arabia, the country’s deputy foreign minister.
The spokesman stressed the importance of the agreements signed between the two countries on Wednesday, particularly the one on political consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries, which would provide for the existence of consultations twice a year to discuss issues of common interest. Energy issues were also discussed.
“This visit is the beginning of a new era in our relations with Saudi Arabia,” Christodoulides said.
Other topics that came up for discussion were security and the fight against terrorism, regional relations, and the need to strengthen the EU’s relations with countries in the Gulf “something for which the Republic of Cyprus can and is willing to play an important role”, the spokesman said.