Suleiman, Cypriot President Agree to Intensify Efforts to Exploit Offshore Oil, Gas Wealth

Cyprus President Demetris Christofias arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday for talks with senior officials on the prospect of cooperation in the exploration of offshore oil and gas.

He kicked off his talks on Thursday with President Michel Suleiman, who thanked him for his country’s support for Lebanon at various international meetings, especially at the European Union.

On oil exploration, he said: “We agreed to intensify efforts to help Lebanon and Cyprus benefit from the oil and gas wealth in the Mediterranean.”

Commenting on regional developments, he stated: “We hope security and stability would be reached in Syria with the rights of its people being respected away from the threat of division and extremism.

“We hope that stability in Syria would pave the way for the refugees in Lebanon to return to their country, whose presence in Lebanon is becoming a major problem,” he added.

For his part, Christofias expressed his fear over the ongoing unrest in Syria, while hailing the Lebanese government for distancing itself from the crisis.

Talks between the two officials also focused on bolstering bilateral ties and cooperation between Cyprus and Lebanon in various fields.

They signed a number of agreements on industry and military cooperation.

Christofias visited Lebanon at the invitation of Suleiman who had visited Nicosia in February 2010.

Cyprus has forged ahead with its own energy search, but is anxious to conclude demarcation agreements on maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with its neighbors.

It has also signed delineation agreements with Lebanon, Egypt and Israel to pave the way for exploiting hydrocarbon deposits that criss-cross their boundaries.

But an agreement has been held up in the Lebanese parliament due to Lebanon’s own dispute with Israel over sea borders.

Cypriot Speaker Yiannakis Omirou visited Lebanon in December 2012 and discussed ways to bolster cooperation between Lebanon and Cyprus.

The cabinet approved in September 2012 the proposed borders of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Mediterranean.

In early November, the cabinet approved the appointment of the six members of the petroleum authority and in June, Lebanon was able to restore 530 square kilometers of a maritime zone that it considers it to be within its zone.

Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Cyprus and Turkey are all much more advanced in drilling for oil and gas.


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