Cyprus: Pompeo to visit Nicosia Saturday, seeks de-escalation and dialogue

Cyprus: Pompeo to visit Nicosia Saturday, seeks de-escalation and dialogue

Cyprus is at the center of efforts to defuse tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Nicosia on Saturday following a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday he would visit Cyprus to seek a peaceful solution to escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean as he called on Turkey to withdraw its forces.

Pompeo will hold talks in Cyprus on Saturday after his trip to Doha, where he will help launch talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Pompeo’s visit to Cyprus was agreed during a telephone conversation between Nikos Christodoulides and Philip Reeker on Thursday night. During their telephone conversation, the Foreign Minister and the Under Secretary of State discussed the situation in the region, bilateral relations and recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The US diplomat said his trip to Cyprus would complement President Donald Trump’s phone calls with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The dispute “must be resolved diplomatically and peacefully”, Pompeo told reporters on the plane en route to Doha.

“So I will work on this project as well, trying to make sure I understand the risks associated with the perspective of the people of Cyprus”, he said.

“We hope that there will be real talks and we hope that the existing warships will be withdrawn so that these talks can take place”, Pompeo said.

Pompeo’s journey comes shortly after the partial lifting of the arms embargo from the United States on Cyprus.

Cavusoglu: We are ready for an unconditional dialogue

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkey’s European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee that Turkey was ready for a dialogue without any preconditions or de-escalation.

“We are ready for dialogue without any conditions {..} but if Greece insists on conditions, then Turkey will insist on its own”, said the head of Turkish diplomacy.

Mevlut Cavusoglu went on to say that Turkey had responded to Germany’s calls to “give diplomacy a chance”, but while the two sides were ready to start talks, “Greece signed an agreement with Egypt”, proving that it is not ready.

“We are ready for a comprehensive dialogue with Greece and the EU” on the future of bilateral relations, stressing that “hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean can become an opportunity for cooperation”./ibna