President Nikos Christodoulides praised on Monday the “historic visit” of Iraq’s President Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, who is visiting Cyprus for the first time.
He described the visit as one that was opening a new chapter in the relations between the two states, saying it had a symbolic and substantive importance.
“It is an indication of our common will to work for the strengthening of our bilateral relations as well as development of our cooperation at the regional and international level,” Christodoulides highlighted.
The two presidents held a tete-a-tete meeting at the presidential palace in Nicosia, followed by extended talks with the participation of their respective delegations.
During the meeting, Rashid extended an invitation to Christodoulides to visit Baghdad, which he said he accepted.
Rashid said both Iraq and Cyprus have a shared culture and common interests, adding that the delegations of both countries would be discussing bilateral relations, the economy, investments, security and anti-terrorism efforts.
The Iraqi president stressed his country’s “deep desire to expand its relations with the Republic of Cyprus”, and expand the country’s presence in Cypriot public and private enterprises.
“There are huge potentials and investment opportunities in Iraq and there is the will of the government to ensure further horizontal cooperation with various friendly countries,” he said.
Christodoulides in turn said “this is a historic visit, as it is the first one the president of Iraq is carrying out in Cyprus.”
He expressed his hope that early next year, the two countries will be able to sign an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation, during the foreign minister’s visit in Iraq. This could boost to the economic and investment relations of the two states, he said.
“We also agreed that there is common ground to promote cooperation in matters of education, but also culture and the protection of our cultural heritage, such as the repatriation of stolen cultural treasures.”
Christodoulides stressed that both Cyprus and Iraq are strongly affected by climate change, adding that Nicosia is ready to cooperate with Iraq, as well as with other countries in the region, in promoting bilateral and regional initiatives to address climate challenges.
The presidents also discussed the developments in Gaza where both highlighted they were devasted for the loss of innocent lives, and concerned for the “serious escalation of tension, which may have regional consequences”.
Cyprus and Iraq, Christodoulides said, are two countries which attach great importance to international law, the respect for the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of states.
He told reporters he briefed his Iraqi counterpart on the Cyprus problem where Christodoulides expressed his gratitude to Iraq for its principled stance in relation to the Cyprus issue, including the country’s position within the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.
Christodoulides noted that as an EU member state, Cyprus is in favour of strengthening the bloc’s relations with Iraq.
Iraq’s president added that his country is currently in a good condition, enjoying safety and security, while strengthening its relations with other countries.