US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be taking part in the next trilateral meeting between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday.
“US interest in taking part in the trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Israel was conveyed to us some time ago and we were in constant contact to set a specific date,” Christodoulides told the Cyprus News Agency.
“It so happens that the meeting in question with the USA represented at foreign minister level can take place on March 20 in Israel.”
One of the main issues to be discussed is energy security, the minister added.
The meeting comes in the wake of ExxonMobil’s discovery of between 5-8 trillion cubic feet in an offshore field inside the island’s exclusive economic zone.
Announcement of the find this week coincided with a largescale naval exercise by Turkey, which disputes Cyprus’ right to explore for hydrocarbons and has repeatedly disrupted operations.
Last year, Turkish warships stopped a drillship belonging to ENI from approaching an offshore block.
Turkey’s claims on the island’s EEZ partly overlap with Cyprus’ blocks 1, 4, 6 and 7.
Ankara also supports the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north’s claims on blocks 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 12 and 13, including within few kilometres from the Aphrodite gas field in block 12.
Turkey meanwhile, has been carrying its own drilling in the region.
In October, Ankara sent its first-ever drillship Fatih to explore off the coast of Turkey as a counter-measure to planned drilling by Cyprus, which it has threatened to disrupt foreign energy companies drilling in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Christodoulides said consultations were also at an advanced stage for a meeting between Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and France.
The four countries were currently finalising the date and the agenda of the meeting.
“We consider the development especially important since, among others, it proves the strong interest prompted by our strengthened cooperation with the states in the region, which is one of the basic pylons of our foreign policy,” Christodoulides said.
Meetings have also been scheduled with Lebanon, at foreign ministry level, with Jordan, heads of state, and Armenia, foreign ministers.
During his speech at fourth Delphi Economic Forum in Greece, Christodoulides analysed the new multi-thematic approach in Cyprus’ foreign policy, which “has changed the situation regarding the Cyprus Issue”.
“For the first time since 1976 we have come very close to a solution,” Christodoulides said, of the talks in 2017.
He said implementation of this new approach began in 2013 and is based on three pillars, aiming to upgrade the country’s geostrategic position.
“The first pillar concerns reinforcement of our relations with all neighbouring Middle East and Gulf States. This cooperation was initially based on energy issues and has now been expanded into a diverse agenda, where we have found common ground,” the minister said.
The second pillar concerns Cyprus’ more active participation in the European affairs, and the third pillar aims at upgrading Cyprus’ relations with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.