In Saudi Arabia, Anastasiades Woos King Salman for Deals

FILE - In this April 4, 2017, file picture Saudi boys pose in front of a huge billboard showing in the center, King Salman, with his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman to the right, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef to the left in Taif, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, making a first visit to saudi Arabia by a Head of State from the island, was to meet King Salman for consultations and prospective agreements on deals ranging from energy to tourism.

The King had invited Anastasiades, who this month faces a re-election campaign after last year failing to reach an agreement with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to reunify the island divided and occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion.

Delegations from the two countries were also involved with Anastasiades being accompanied by the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Transport and Energy, and the government spokesman, the Cyprus Mail reported.

The Cypriot President was also scheduled to meet with the Saudi Arabian crown prince, as well as the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and visit the facilities of J&P, a Cypriot-owned company.

In an interview with the Arabic international newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on Monday, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said that Cyprus looks forward to “bolstering cooperation with Saudi Arabia in order to achieve security and stability in the region.”

He added that bilateral ties between the two countries “have taken an important step forward after Riyadh appointed its Athens ambassador as the charge d’affaires in Nicosia.”

“I believe there are great opportunities for cooperation between us in many fields, such as economy, business and tourism,” he told the paper, highlighting the significance Saudi Arabia has.

“Saudi Arabia is an important country and a leader in the Arab and Muslim worlds and King Salman is custodian of the two holy mosques,” he said, adding that Riyadh could play a role in reuniting Cyprus.

“Many people believe that the problem lies between the Cypriot people. We are prepared to share the country with the Turkish-Cypriot population within a Cypriot union… the main problem that will remain is Turkey, which is still following a strange policy towards the Arab world,” he said.