Nicosia, November 13, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Kyriacos Kyriacou
During the third week of January a tripartite meeting between Cyprus, Israel and Greece will be held in Nicosia.
The decision was taken during a meeting in Jerusalem on Friday between visiting President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In remarks before talks, welcoming President Anastasiades, the Israeli Prime Minister said it is a “pleasure to see Anastasiades again” after his recent visit to Jerusalem. “We have such close relations, we are very close in geography, in values, in interests, in spirit”, he remarked.
Netanyahu expressed interest to discuss “a whole range of our relations. Everything. Trade, Energy, Tourism, visits of heads of states.”
He added that Cyprus and Israel are “sufficiently close and we can” visit each other “again and again. I am happy to see you again in a spirit of real friendship.”
On his part, President Anastasiades said: “I look forward to our talks, and the deliberations always help furthering our relations, and I am sure that we are going to be, as always, on the same track.”
After their remarks, the President and the Prime Minister had a private meeting, followed by expanded talks between the delegations of the two countries.
According to CNA sources, the two men discussed issues concerning ad hoc regional cooperation, the economy and tourism. Anastasiades informed Netanyahu on the Cyprus problem and a discussion was held on the Middle East issue.
At the same time, President Anastasiades conveyed to Netanyahu a message from Mahmoud Abbas and received a message from the Israeli Prime Minister which he will convey this afternoon during talks with Abbas in Ramallah.
Regarding regional cooperation in the field of energy, the two men agreed that the benefits for the region are twofold if all interested parties in the region agree to cooperate.
On the handling of humanitarian crisis, Netanyahu said that he does not forget the help that Cyprus has offered to Israel back in 2010 when Cyprus contributed to controlling the fires outside Haifa.
Netanyahu put at the disposal of Nicosia 13 fire airplanes that Israel has in dealing with similar incidents. As he said if asked for Israel`s help, the planes can be in Cyprus in half an hour adding, “all 13 planes are at your disposal.”
Moreover, the Minister of Tourism of Israel is expected to visit Cyprus to discuss code-shared flights to China and the US.
On the Middle East issue, the two discussed extensively the initiative of President Anastasiades to separately invite Netanyahu and Abbas to the European Council, with the President of the Republic stressing the significance of security and cooperation among all states in the region.
The Israeli Prime Minister asked to be briefed on the latest developments on the Cyprus issue and the President informed him extensively on the negotiations for a comprehensive solution and all the aspects of the problem.
President Anastasiades told Netanyahu that progress has been achieved in some areas but and there are difficult issues, where progress is expected in the coming period.
In the context of this discussion, Turkey`s role in efforts to solve the Cyprus issue was examined.
Netanyahu informed Anastasiades on the Middle East issue and all its aspects.
They also discussed the EU`s new guidelines on Wednesday for labeling products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, with Netanyahu saying this is a wrong decision, which does not financially affect his country but he is uncomfortable with the symbolism.
The measure is estimated to affect 1% of exports of goods produced in the occupied territories.
As CNA has learnt, President Anastasiades` current contacts and discussions in Israel are part of a broader framework for building regional partnerships in Eastern Mediterranean and is not unrelated to his preceding visit to Jordan.
In this respect, Cyprus seeks to capitalize on the strategic advantage that it has, as an EU member state, and in 2016, a number of regional meetings are expected to follow.
President Anastasiades and his delegation were expected to travel to Ramallah to meet with Abbas later Friday.
President Anastasiades will be returning to Cyprus on Saturday.