Cyprus, Egypt Step Up Cooperation to Deal with Terrorism, Migration

Egypt's Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy, left, and Cyprus' Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides shake hands after signing an agreement at the Defense ministry in capital Nicosia in southeast Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA (AP) – Egypt’s defense minister says chances for a Mideast peace deal have been diminished after the U.S. government’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Sedki Sobhi said talks with his Cypriot counterpart Christoforos Fokaides Tuesday focused on ways in which the two countries can step up cooperation to deal with common challenges including terrorism and illegal migration.

Sobhi said “the chances to settle the Palestinian issue have declined, particularly after the U.S. decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.”

Fokaides said Egypt is a key country for regional stability and that Cyprus is urging is fellow European Union member states to give the country “greater, more substantial and tangible” support.

He said joint training and military drills are planned for next year.

The two countries also signed a cooperation agreement on offshore search and rescue operations.

Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos will join both men on Thursday for three-way talks.

Cyprus’ Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides, right, welcomes Egypt’s Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy at the Defense ministry in capital Nicosia in southeast Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Sobhy is in Cyprus for talks after Egypt President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi visited the island. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Egypt’s Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy, left, and Cyprus’ Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides prepare to sign an agreement at the Defense ministry in capital Nicosia in southeast Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Sobhy is in Cyprus for talks after Egypt President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi visited the island. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)