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EU support for humanitarian marine corridor

ursula
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen welcomed President Nikos Christodoulides’ efforts to open a humanitarian corridor via sea to Gaza.

Christodoulides, meanwhile, said EU states are supportive of the initiative and that he will be holding further talks on the matter on Wednesday in Paris.

“We are working with Israel, Egypt and the United Nations to get more convoys into Gaza,” von der Leyen said on Monday in her speech to EU ambassadors in Brussels, and mentioned the intent to further investigate prospects of a maritime aid corridor via Cyprus.

The proposal has several practical difficulties that must be overcome in order to be implemented, however, diplomatic sources in Nicosia said the credibility of Cyprus and the good relations it maintains with countries in the region make its role as a connecting link possible, local media reported.

In her speech von der Leyen said that aid to Palestinian civilians is now coming in through the Rafah border crossing, but quantities remain too small to meet the enormous humanitarian needs.

“Our priority is to work with partners to strengthen logistical capabilities in Rafah,” she said.

The commission president added the EU was working with Israel, Egypt and the United Nations to get more convoys into Gaza, including through humanitarian corridors and pauses.

At the same time, she said, the EU was working on additional routes, citing as an example the maritime corridor from Cyprus, through which “a continuous, regulated and robust flow of aid [would] be ensured.”

“I warmly welcome the excellent cooperation with President Nikos Christodoulides and his government,” she said.

Processes for setting up a humanitarian corridor from Cyprus to Gaza are continuing, according to Christodoulides, who welcomed the von der Leyen statement on Monday.

“We are continuing the processes at the technocratic and diplomatic level. On Wednesday I will be in Paris, it is one of the main proposals that will be discussed. I welcome the substantial support from France in the implementation of this proposal and depending on the developments we will see [the outcomes of] the matter,” he said.

The EU commission head’s remarks came on the heels of a brief visit on Sunday of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who met with Christodoulides in Larnaca enroute to Turkey, and reportedly discussed the proposal.

Speaking about his whirlwind meeting with Blinken, the president said the visit had been a surprise and that the US statesman briefed him on his latest talks with states in the region.

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