Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, make statements to the media. (Photo: PIO)

Cyprus-Saudi talks on regional, EU issues

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Cyprus and Saudi Arabia plan to pick up the pace in their bilateral ties, especially in regional geopolitical as well as relations with the EU, with the foreign ministers of the two countries setting a cooperation framework within the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan.

Host Ioannis Kasoulides, welcoming on Sunday the first official foreign delegation since he assumed office a month ago, said “our bilateral relations have come a long way and have acquired solid footing.”

“We agreed to pick up pace in concluding a comprehensive strategic framework of our partnership, in line with Vision 2030,” Dr Kasoulides said.

The Saudi Vision 2030 aims to reduce dependence on oil and diversify its economy to focus on non-energy exports, public sector reform and enhance tourism, including the promotion of a more secular image, evident in the Kingdom’s new marketing campaigns.

Kasoulides added that his meeting with Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud aimed, among other things, to prepare the visit of President Anastasiades to the Kingdom, and discussed Saudi Arabia’s bid for hosting the ‘Expo 2030’, which the Cypriot Foreign Minister praised as being “a very strong bid, which we view very favourably.”

“We also had the chance to review EU-Saudi relations, particularly in view of next week’s EU – GCC Council, which my colleague will co-chair. Cyprus attaches great importance to more and better coordination with our Gulf partners and the fact that we are strong advocates of a strategic approach to the EU-Saudi Arabia relations.”

Middle East peace process

“We discussed the conflict in Syria, the prospects for the Middle East peace process and the severe difficulties of Lebanon, matters on which Saudi Arabia’s views carry a special gravitas.”

Kasoulides said that Cyprus’ foreign policy is fully aligned with Saudi Arabia, especially over the conflict and foreign involvement in efforts to destabilise neighbouring Yemen.

A large part of the discussions focused on the Gulf region, whose stability and security are under increased threat from terrorist attacks.

“I have conveyed to my colleague our strong solidarity to the government and people of Saudi Arabia and our categorical condemnation of the latest drone attack on Abha Airport. Such senseless terrorist acts against Saudi territory and other close Gulf partners put civilian lives at risk and jeopardise the stability and security of the whole region.

“As we stand firmly with our Saudi friends, we are talking a closer look on ways of pursuing accountability for such reprehensible behaviour, in a manner that would bolster ongoing efforts for diplomatic progress on the Yemen file, which will give an end to the disastrous humanitarian tragedy in the country.”

Prior to the official meeting of the two senior diplomats, the Saudi Foreign Minister was welcomes at the Presidential Palace.

He said in a statement that, “I was honoured to convey the greetings of the (Saudi) leadership, to President Anastasiades, and reviewed aspects of the Saudi-Cyprus partnership and ways to develop it, to achieve greater prosperity for the two friendly countries and peoples.”

Anastasiades welcomed the visiting Foreign Minister and said, “Cyprus and Saudi Arabia are eager to further develop our already strong ties. We continue to build on our bilateral relationship, particularly in areas of foreign policy, security, trade and investment.”