ENERGY: Cyprus aims to secure strong US support for its gas exploration

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Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will try to secure US support for the Republic of Cyprus’ right to exploit its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) despite Turkish threats, similar to that expressed by the EU.

This will happen during a tête-à-tête Anastasiades is scheduled to have in Jerusalem next week with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Speaking to CNA, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said a bilateral meeting between Anastasiades and Pompeo is expected to take place on the sidelines of the Cyprus-Israel-Greece trilateral Summit, in order to discuss Turkish threats in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, among others.

“The EU reiterates its solidarity and support for the rights of the Republic of Cyprus in the EEZ. Therefore, the President will seek to have something similar from the United States,” Prodromou said.

He was referring to statements made in Brussels by Federica Mogherini, the Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, in support of Cyprus’ energy search.

Speaking at the end of the EU-Turkey Association Council, last Friday, in the presence of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Mogherini said, “the European Union stands in full solidarity with Cyprus when it comes to the recent statements by Turkey in relation to its planned drilling activities in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.”

Turkey says it will conduct its own drilling ventures offshore Cyprus.

Prodromou said other bilateral issues are expected to be on the agenda at the Jerusalem summit with Pompeo, such as ExxonMobil’s presence in Cyprus’ EEZ, as well as the arms embargo on Cyprus, which the US imposed back in 1987 to avoid hindering reunification efforts.

He said the Summit will focus mostly on energy security issues, as the meeting takes place shortly after the island’s largest hydrocarbon discoveries by ExxonMobil in Cyprus’ EEZ block 10.

Regional security cooperation is being upgraded through the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Israel.

“This conveys the message that the US takes into account the role that all three countries play for stability and security in the region” Prodromou.

As for the signing of an interstate agreement on the €7 bln Eastmed gas pipeline, concluded last December in Beer Sheva, Prodromou said that any developments are likely after May’s European elections.

Rome’s presence, a partner in the gas pipeline project that aims to link Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, is required for the signing, he added.