Cyprus has been leading the way in building the link between the Middle East and Europe, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, said on Sunday, after talks he had in Nicosia with his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides.

“Cyprus is a key partner for us in the EU.  We see Cyprus as really a bridge for our region into the EU, helping the EU understand what is going on in the Middle East and helping really focus the attention on all of the opportunities that exist. Cyprus has been leading the way in building the link between our region and Europe,” Prince Al Saud said in statements after the meeting.

On his part, Foreign Minister Kasoulides said that “we are strong advocates of a strategic approach to the EU – Saudi Arabia relations.” Moreover, he noted that they reviewed a number of bilateral issues “and we agreed to pick up pace in concluding a comprehensive strategic framework of our partnership, in line with Vision 2030. Our meeting today aimed, among other things, to prepare the visit of President Anastasiades to the Kingdom,” he added, noting that “we will be very pleased to welcome to Cyprus the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Kasoulides said that he briefed Minister Al Saud on the latest developments on the Cyprus issue. “I presented him the confidence building measures we are proposing, in order to pave the way to the resumption of meaningful negotiations for the reunification of our country, according to the agreed framework,” he noted, stressing that “Saudi Arabia’s principled support speaks volumes and we know and appreciate that we have a friend in you.”

In his statements, the Saudi FM said that during the meeting he had earlier with Cyprus President, Nicos Anastasiades, he conveyed to him the warm greetings of the King and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

As regards his meeting with Kasoulides, he said that “we had very broad and deep discussions, reviewing our bilateral relations that have grown steadily since we first established them in 1961” and after the opening of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Nicosia in 2018.

He noted that they also discussed multilateral issues. “In a very productive meeting we talked about how we build on the momentum that already exists,” he added.

The Saudi FM said that “we have a strong friendship, we have an excellent relationship and there are many-many opportunities to move forward. We talked about institutionalizing that process, exploring those opportunities. There are currently 11 MoUs and agreements under review between the two countries in a multitude of fields, tourism, energy, commerce, transport, logistics, defence etc,” he added.

He noted that “the opportunities are extensive and we also focused on exploring the economic and investment opportunities that Vision 2030 provides to our partners,” adding that “I am very pleased with Cyprus` interest in becoming a key partner for our vision and working with us to further those benefits.”

Prince Al Saud said that “we are very eager to explore a constructive partnership with Cyprus, one build on those understandings.”

He also noted that they talked about issues like climate change, and described President Anastasiades` initiative on this as very important.

The Saudi FM also said that they talked about the challenges “that we all face vis-à-vis  regional stability and  vis-à-vis terrorism.

We and Cyprus have a very – very strong alignment. We both believe very strongly in the need for stability, for security and the primacy of international law,” he added.

Furthermore, he said that “if we do not all agree that international law is the primary guider of state relations, we risk to have instability for all. It is important that we all stand together to defend the primacy of international law, state sovereignty and reject interventionism of all sorts.”

On his part, Kasoulides stressed that the bilateral relations of the two counties “have come a long way and are acquired solid footing.”
 
“Today provided us we a good opportunity to review a number of bilateral issues and we agreed to pick up pace in concluding a comprehensive strategic framework of our partnership, in line with Vision 2030. Our meeting today aimed, among other things, to prepare the visit of President Anastasiades to the Kingdom, while we also discussed Saudi Arabia’s bid for hosting the “Expo 2030”, a very strong bid, which we view very favorably,” he added.

Kasoulides said that “a large part of our discussions was dedicated to the latest developments in 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 other close Gulf partners put civilian lives at risk and jeopardize the stability and security of the whole region,” the Cypriot FM underlined.

He said that “as we stand firmly with our Saudi friends, we are talking a closer look on ways of pursuing accountability for such reprehensible behavior, 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.”

Kasoulides noted that “Saudi Arabia is one of the bulwarks of the Arab world and Cyprus is bound by geography and history to this part of the globe, so today’s agenda was more than prolific in substance. We have 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,” he added.

Moreover, he said that they reviewed EU – Saudi relations, “particularly in view of next week’s EU – GCC Council, which my colleague will co-chair” and stressed  the importance that Cyprus attaches 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.”

Concluding, he said that he has no doubt that “we will continue working closely as our strong partnership between our countries gathers all the more strategic value.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

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