Lebanon Wants Energy Links, Closer Ties With Cyprus

FILE - In this photo taken Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, a man walks as an other man sits on a beach during a warm day as a drilling platform is seen in the background, outside from Larnaca port, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

With Cyprus stepping up its international role in energy and offshore drilling by foreign companies going on, Lebanon has asked for help in exploring hydrocarbons in its waters, Ambassador Claude El Hajal said.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, she also said the Lebanese were investing in real estate in Cyprus, in the hotel industry, and in the banking sector and that ties between the two countries as well as Greece hoped to help stabilize the Middle East region.

She said, “Lebanon and Cyprus are neighboring countries with a shared history which dates back to Phoenician times, and we continue to work together to enhance the relations on all levels,” mentioning the recent visit by Lebanese Minister of Defence Yaacoub Sarraf to Cyprus when a deal with signed over forest fire fighting.

“Cyprus also promised to help Lebanon build a search- and-rescue centre to respond to emergency off its coastline. Our aim is to continue to strengthen and deepen our cooperation,” she added.

Cyprus was also committed to giving assistance in the field of exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean and also hosts the Unifil Maritime Task Force which has been patrolling the region and helping the Lebanese navy to monitor its territorial waters.

El Hajal said Cyprus was already helping the Lebanese Army and that over the period 2015-2017 had provided ammunition worth over 20 million euros and that coming new talks would tighten the ties.

“We are already reaping the fruits of closer cooperation in the fields of counter – terrorism cooperation, military and security cooperation, refugee and migration issues, energy, economic cooperation, cross investment, Lebanon EU relations, tourism, agriculture, maritime transport, cooperation on environmental issues including forest fire fighting and cooperation on cultural issues,” the Ambassador said.